ACCS Meeting Notes for July 28, 2011Advisory Commission on Charter Schools - ACCS Meeting Notes for July 28, 2011.
Advisory Commission on Charter Schools
An Advisory Body to the State Board of Education
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Room 1101
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Dr. Vicki Barber
Kelly Kovacic (Absent)
Dr. John Porter
Dr. Mark Ryan
Curtis Washington (Absent)
PRINCIPAL STAFF TO THE ADVISORY COMMISSION
Dr. Carolyn Zachry, Consultant, Charter Schools Division
Jay Harris, Consultant, Charter Schools Division
Bonnie Galloway, Education Administrator, Charter Schools Division
Stephen Work, Consultant, Charter Schools Division
Dmitriy Voloshin, Consultant, Charter Schools Division
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION REPRESENTATIVES
Call to Order
Chair Bauer called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m.
Salute to the Flag
Dr. Barber led the commission in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Welcome and Introductions
Chair Bauer noted that new appointments had been made to the commission, and called for all commissioners to introduce themselves.
Mr. Ryan introduced himself as a former math and science teacher. He has worked for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and San Bernardino Unified School District. He expressed that he was glad to be serving on the commission.
Dr. Porter introduced himself as the superintendent of the Franklin-McKinley School District. He explained that he is a big proponent of standards-based education. His district serves over 10,000 students in 16 schools.
Dr. Barber introduced herself as the superintendent of the El Dorado County Office of Education. She explained that her county office operates 5 charter schools, and a charter Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA).
Ms. Hunkapiller introduced herself as the director of the Charter Schools Division for the California Department of Education, and she represents the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. She also serves as a governing board representative for another charter school, and formerly served as the chair of the Aspire Public Schools board.
Chair Bauer introduced himself as a former teacher from LAUSD, a former administrator for Locke High School and Franklin High School, and he currently serves as the head of school for Granada High School.
Mr. Gary Davis introduced himself as the parent representative. He also serves on the city council for Elk Grove, and a school board in Natomas.
Mr. Chris Thomsen introduced himself as a centrist. He also served on the Sequoia Union High school board.
Chair Bauer called on representatives from the State Board of Education (SBE) to introduce themselves.
Ms. Sue Burr introduced herself as the executive director of the SBE, and expressed that she was glad to be present.
Ms. Judy Cias introduced herself as the chief counsel to the SBE.
Ms. Yvonne Chan introduced herself as an SBE liaison. She also serves as the principal of a conversion charter school
Ms. Trish Williams introduced herself as an SBE liaison. She has extensive experience in public policy, and formerly served for the Oklahoma Department of Education.
Chair Bauer noted that commissioners Washington and Kovacic were absent.
Review and Adoption of Meeting Notes
Chair Bauer called on the commission to review and adopt the May 31, 2011, Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS) notes. He explained that voting members would be confined to those that were present at the meeting in question (commissioners Davis, Barber, Bauer, and Hunkapiller).
- MOTION: Commissioner Barber moved to approve the meeting notes from the May 31, 2011, ACCS meeting. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion.
- ACTION: The motion was approved by a vote of four in favor and none opposed.
Reorder of Agenda
Chair Bauer indicated that the commission would consider items 1 and 2, and then may consider items 4 and 5 prior to addressing item 3. He further explained that the commission planned to break for lunch at 12:30 PM, but would aim to accomplish as much as possible prior to then. He expected that items 6, 7, and 8 would be addressed after lunch.
Chair Bauer called for public comment.
Jean Hatch (Redding School of the Arts) announced the opening of her school on September 23, 2011. She cordially invited commission members to the ceremony, and expressed that the school would be honored to host commission members at the ceremony.
Eric Premack of the Charter Schools Development Center (CSDC) introduced himself to new commission members, and urged the commission to remember the service of previous commission members, specifically Mark Kushner. He further suggested that the CDE consider Kushner for involvement in the SBE.
Item 1: New West Charter Middle School: Consideration of Petition to Renew Charter.
Dr. Carolyn Zachry presented this item. New West Charter Middle School (NWCMS) is located in west L.A. and serves 330 students in grades 6-8. The school has a 2010 Academic Performance Index (API) score of 913, and a statewide ranking of 10. The NWCMS charter was approved in 2001, and began operations in 2002. The school was renewed for a 5 year term in 2007. The school is currently seeking renewal for another 5 year term from 2012-2017.
NWCMS submitted its petition for consideration to the LAUSD board, but was denied in February 2011. LAUSD denied the charter petition on the basis that the petitioner was not demonstrably likely to complete the objectives identified in the charter petition, that there were concerns with the school’s admissions process, and other reasons.
To address these concerns, the CDE recommends that the school revise their admissions packet for the 2012-13 school year to gather test score information from potential students after the students complete the lottery selection process. Of the many other findings by LAUSD, the CDE finds that only a few technical amendments would be required to satisfy concerns with the charter petition.
Dr. Zachry noted that NWCMS met all of the statutory requirements for renewal found in California Education Code. The CDE recommends renewal of the NWCMS charter petition for a new 5 year term, beginning July 2012 and ending June 2017, subject to conditions described in the staff report.
Chair Bauer called for commissioner questions.
Commissioner Porter asked Dr. Zachry to respond to LAUSD’s concerns about conflicts of interest and parent volunteer requirements. Dr. Zachry explained that the requirements in question are imposed by LAUSD, but are not an SBE requirement.
Commissioner Ryan noted LAUSD’s concerns over suspension procedures in the NWCMS petition, specifically citing that students may be required to withdraw from the school as a disciplinary procedure. He asked if this was still included in the charter petition. Dr. Zachry clarified that this provision is not included in the renewal petition.
Commissioner Ryan asked if there was information pertaining to interim placement for expelled students in the renewal petition. Lisa Corr (Middleton, Young and Minney) explained that charters are not obligated to provide service to expelled students, with exception to special education students. She added that NWCMS has not expelled any students thus far, and so it is a non issue, but in the event of an expulsion, the school would immediately notify the district of residence as required by law.
Commissioner Barber asked for clarification on what “Public School Choice” was, as identified in finding 24 of LAUSD’s findings. Dr. Zachry clarified that Public School Choice referred to a LAUSD district policy. Chair Bauer added that the Public School Choice issued boiled down to whether or not NWCMS would receive students from LAUSD’s failing schools.
Commissioner Thomsen requested clarification on whether the charter revisions would be binding for all subsequent years of operation. Dr. Zachry clarified that they were binding for all subsequent years. She explained that the school had already conducted a lottery for the 2011-12 school year, so amendments to the admissions policy could not take effect until 2012-13.
Chair Bauer requested clarification on the weighted lottery procedures. Dr. Zachry clarified that the weighted lottery would give preference for socio-economically disadvantaged students, possibly those that qualify for free and reduced price lunches (FRPL). Students that receive preference get two tickets in the lottery, as opposed to one.
Chair Bauer called on the petitioner to present.
Dr. Sharon Weir, Executive Director of NWCMS, presented. As an SBE authorized school, NWCMS is required to seek renewal at the local level prior to SBE re-authorization. NWCMS serves a diverse population of approximately 50% ethnic groups and 50% Caucasian students. Although the school is located in west Los Angeles (L.A.), they enrolled students from 50 different zip codes across the city. NWCMS participates in extensive outreach efforts to ensure their message reaches a much wider community; they solicit students from up to a 30-mile radius. Dr. Weir noted that the school had 79 open spots for the 2011-12 school year, but received 901 applications.
NWCMS is ranked the highest-performing middle school in L.A. It was the first middle school in L.A. to achieve an API over 900, and was named a California Distinguished School in 2009. NWCMS attributes much of its success to the efforts of its teachers. Smaller class sizes allow for an individualized learning environment. Teachers utilize an internal tracking system to ensure that no student falls through the cracks; teachers also meet on a regular basis to assess student progress, and review curriculum.
In closing, Dr. Weir stated that NWCMS was very proud to be state-authorized.
Chair Bauer called for commissioner questions.
Commissioner Thomsen asked if the school was able to achieve greater diversity from a tighter geographic proximity. Dr. Weir indicated that she was unable to answer that question until the school had an opportunity to attract more local students.
Commissioner Davis requested clarification on the school’s outreach and recruitment procedures. Dr. Weir explained that recruiters attend events at neighboring schools as frequently as possible. She noted difficulty in soliciting students from LAUSD schools, where LAUSD prohibited NWCMS from attending events.
Chair Bauer thanked Dr. Weir for providing copies of the NWCMS enrollment applications. He asked what the application looked like prior to this updated form. Dr. Weir explained that the forms were similar, but the school previously requested the cumulative file during the application process. She added that information from the cumulative file was never used until after the lottery, and that the school never received complaints about the process.
Chair Bauer applauded the fiscal health of NWCMS as he recalled the school was nearing bankruptcy prior to Dr. Weir’s leadership. He asked Dr. Weir to comment on the special education services provided by NWCMS. Dr. Weir responded by describing NWCMS’s participation in the southwest SELPA. She indicated that parents and students receive exemplary service in a timely manner.
Commissioner Hunkapiller asked for clarification on barriers that prevented the school from enrolling greater numbers of English language learners and socio-economically disadvantaged students. Dr. Weir explained that transportation is a major issue because the school does not have bus service, but relies on carpooling. She also added that the school services a number of special education students, but they manage to exit many students from their Individual Education Plans (IEP’s), which undercuts the demographic.
Commissioner Porter expressed concern over the issues that NWCMS faced with LAUSD. He also expressed that he was impressed with the NWCMS program.
Commissioner Ryan expressed concern over the school’s ability to close the achievement gap, while noting they have made significant gains in student achievement as a whole.
Chair Bauer recognized that neither LAUSD nor the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) sent representatives to the commission meeting. He noted that there were several speakers signed up for public comment, and reminded the speakers to be brief and succinct.
Lisa Corr (Middleton, Young and Minney) commented that many of the district findings were based on district policies that are not based in California Education Code. She expressed that the school has made several positive changes in cooperation with CDE staff to address the demographic challenges in the school’s enrollment.
Jasmine Yen (NWCMS Graduate) commented that she felt supported and encouraged at NWCMS. She added that the school’s academic performance spoke for itself.
Taylor Holeman (NWCMS Graduate) commented that the teachers at NWCMS were trustworthy and good educators. She always felt welcome and a sense of belonging.
Ashley Wong (NWCMS Graduate) commented that she felt welcomed at NWCMS. She added that the school harbors a student-centered environment, and described how teachers would stay for long periods of time after class and work with students on tough subject matter.
Karen Hollis (Parent at NWCMS) expressed that she was very proud of her school. She felt that the school provided a remarkable environment for students.
Braden Hollis (NWCMS Student) expressed support for the school. She felt welcomed and nurtured at New West.
Alexis Hellebuyck (NWCMS Parent) commented that the school met the needs of her children and encouraged them to succeed.
Kristin Hellebuyck (NWCMS Student) expressed support for the school, and explained that she has developed new skills and interests in academic subjects because of the support she received from teachers at the school.
Jared Hellebuyck (NWCMS Student) commented that although he struggled with academics, he felt very supported and hopeful while attending the school.
Commissioner Barber complimented both students on their articulate statements.
Max Reiner (New West Graduate) commented that he felt very safe and comfortable at the school. He added that class sizes were small, which fostered a personal learning experience, and that teachers accommodated the needs of the students.
Michelle Low of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) expressed the CCSA’s support for the renewal.
Jean Hatch (Redding School of the Arts) expressed support for the petition’s renewal, and commented that not all of the problems discussed are unique to NWCMS, but rather affect a lot of small schools.
Eric Premack (CSDC) explained that NWCMS is not a member of the CSDC. He commented that he is having difficulty understanding why this is a controversial renewal. In regards to the achievement gap issue, he recognized the persistent gap but noted that the trend lines were very favorable.
Chair Bauer called for a motion.
- MOTION: Commissioner Ryan moved to approve the recommendation that the State Board of Education hold a public hearing and approve the NWCMS charter petition as recommended by CDE staff. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion.
- ACTION: The motion was approved by a vote of six in favor, none opposed, with Commissioner Hunkapiller in abstention.
Item 2: New West Charter Middle School: Consideration of a Material Revision to the Charter to Expand Grades Served from Six through Eight to Six through Twelve and the Proposed Relocation of the School Site.
Dr. Zachry presented this item. She clarified that the material revision could not be included in the renewal item because the charter petition could not be considered in a modified state than from what was submitted to LAUSD.
The proposed material revision would allow NWCMS to expand grade levels and to relocate to a facility with sufficient space to support the expansion. The high school program would be a continuation of the middle school program. New students would complete courses that met all University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) requirements. The program would also increase the number of English learner (EL) and socio-economically disadvantaged students in attendance at NWCMS.
Dr. Zachry added that the proposed budget was reasonable in anticipating the costs of the expansion.
Chair Bauer called for commissioner questions.
Commissioner Thomsen asked for clarification on estimated enrollment of the expanded charter. Dr. Weir clarified that the expansion will occur over the next 3-4 years, with a new grade level added each year, until the school reaches full capacity in 2015-16. She referred to this as “phased enrollment,” and clarified that the numbers were just a projection. Commissioner Thomsen asked how the school factored attrition into their projected enrollment. Dr. Weir responded that there was significant demand from the community, and that available spaces could be filled rapidly. Commissioner Thomsen commented that the school should factor in greater consideration for attrition.
Commissioner Davis asked, if approved, was the school prepared to begin serving students this fall. Dr. Weir clarified that the opening date of the expanded program would be September 2012.
Commissioner Porter commented that it would be a challenge to the school to handle incoming 9th grade students that hadn’t been carried through the New West Middle School program. He added that the school should consider a means to address such a body of students directly.
Chair Bauer called for public comment. Dr. Weir responded that the majority of comments would be similar expressions of support from those that had commented during Item 1.
Chair Bauer called for a motion.
- MOTION: Commissioner Ryan moved to approve the recommendation that the State Board of Education hold a public hearing to approve the material revision to the NWCMS charter petition. Commissioner Barber seconded the motion.
- ACTION: The motion was approved by a vote of six in favor, none opposed, with Commissioner Hunkapiller in abstention.
Chair Bauer called for Item 4 to be presented, and explained that the commission would hear Item 3 after lunch.
Item 4: Consideration of Requests for Determination of Funding Rates as Required for Nonclassroom-based Charter Schools for Carter G. Woodson Charter, Gold Rush Charter, Julian Charter, Mojave River Academy, and W.E.B. DuBois Charter.
Jay Harris, Consultant, Charter Schools Division, presented this item. Mr. Harris reviewed the regulatory requirements for nonclassroom-based schools to receive state apportionments. The requirements include: 40 percent of the charter school’s total revenues to contribute to certificated staff costs and 80 percent of total revenues to contribute to instructional services; and a 25:1 pupil-to-teacher ratio. He noted that all schools considered for a funding determination in this item meet the above criteria, and are thus recommended for a 100 percent funding determination rate. The CDE recommends this rate for a duration of 4 years for all schools in consideration.
Chair Bauer called for commissioner questions.
Commissioner Ryan noted that the funding requests from each school fluctuated from 3-5 years. He requested clarification as to why the recommendation was for 4 years. Mr. Harris explained that a school must have an API ranking of 6 in order to qualify for a 5 year determination. He indicated that none of the schools included in the item met this criterion, so they are being recommended for 4 years instead.
Commissioner Barber noted that Gold Rush Charter had an API ranking of 3 statewide, and 2 in similar schools. She recalled that the SBE recently adjusted the time frame for an approval for a low-performing school. She requested clarification on board policy to issue a 4-year determination. Mr. Harris explained that there was no statutory authority to consider academic performance in making a funding determination. He confirmed that in the recent past, the SBE has considered that academic performance indicators are not a part of the statutory or regulatory requirements for the funding determination process.
Commissioner Barber asked for clarification on whether the CDE recommendation is in accordance with what the SBE has requested. Commissioner Hunkapiller noted that CDE legal counsel has taken the position that academic performance criteria are not part of the funding determination process.
Commissioner Thomsen requested clarification as to why Table 1 was included in the item, if they cannot legally consider academic performance in making a funding determination. Commissioner Hunkapiller explained that the SBE had an interest in academic performance and accountability, so the information is provided as contextual background information. Commissioner Porter noted that funding and accountability issues must be separate, as per statute.
Chair Bauer called for public comment. Hearing none, he called for a motion.
- MOTION: Commissioner Barber moved to approve the recommendation to the State Board of Education to approve of funding rates for nonclassroom-based instruction as listed in Attachment 1 for: Carter G. Woodson Charter, Gold Rush Charter, Julian Charter, Mojave River Academy, and W.E.B. DuBois Charter. Commissioner Porter seconded the motion.
- ACTION: The motion was approved by a vote of seven in favor and none opposed.
Chair Bauer called for a lunch recess at 12:40 PM. The meeting resumed at 1:30 PM.
Item 3: California College, Career, and Technical Education Center: Consider Evidence Regarding a Notice of Violation Issued by the State Board of Education Pursuant to Education Code Section 46706(d).
Commissioner Barber recused herself from this item, citing the California College, Career, and Technical Education Center’s (CCCTEC) participation in the EDCOE SELPA. Commissioner Barber left the board room while the item was heard.
Ms. Bonnie Galloway presented this item. At the July 2011 SBE meeting, acting on significant concerns, the CDE recommended that the SBE issue a notice of violation to CCCTEC. The notice required CCCTEC to refute or remedy items of concern identified in the notice.
Ms. Galloway summarized the revocation process in California Education Code. Charter law states that a chartering authority may revoke under the following conditions: if the charter school violates conditions of the authorized charter petition; if the charter school fails to meet outcomes identified in the authorized charter petition; if the charter school fails to meet generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP); or if the charter school violates the law. There are three steps in the revocation process:
- Prior to revoking a charter, the authority must notify the charter school of violations that serve as the basis for revocation, and give opportunity to remedy those violations.
- The authority will consider the charter school’s response.
- The authority will hold a public hearing to revoke the charter.
Ms. Galloway clarified that the notice of violation was previously issued by the SBE, and now the commission will consider evidence provided in response by CCCTEC, per step 2.
Ms. Galloway summarized CDE concerns that serve as the basis for the revocation, which included the following:
- CCCTEC failed to meet GAAP or engaged in fiscal mismanagement by failing to pay its teachers, failing to return significant sums of state or federal funds, and failure to provide adequate financial records.
- CCCTEC violated provisions of law in that CCCTEC teachers did not hold required credentials.
Ms. Galloway added, after an analysis of the school’s financial records, it is questionable if the school can continue operation through February 2012.
Chair Bauer requested clarification that the commission is acting in accordance with the second step in the revocation process, which is to consider evidence provided by CCCTEC in response to a notice of violation that has already been issued by the SBE. Ms. Galloway confirmed this.
Chair Bauer called for commissioner questions. Hearing none, he called upon the school representative to present.
Paul Preston, Executive Director of CCCTEC, presented. Mr. Preston summarized that CCCTEC was approved by the SBE on May 7, 2010, and began operation on September 20, 2010, serving grade levels 9 and 10. The school primarily serves socially disadvantaged, Hispanic and minority populations. The school provides career and technical education, as well as college preparation. He added that the school has received candidacy status from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). He added that the school operates out of a state-of-the-art facility, is SB-740 qualified, and is a member of CTE Teach. CCCTEC maintains partnerships with WyoTech and several other community organizations.
The school ended the 2010-11 school year with 106 students, and predicts to increase enrollment to 250 by the end of the 2011-12 school year.
Mr. Preston explained that the school was plagued with problems from the start. Prior to opening, the school was asked to conduct an air quality study, which cost $33,000 and prevented the school from opening until late September. The late opening hurt the school’s initial enrollment and recruitment efforts. The school had to sell receivables to stay afloat financially.
Mr. Preston explained that the late release of the 2010-2015 Public Charter Schools Grant Program (PCSGP) Request for Applications (RFA) added further financial burden to the school, and funds awarded under the program did not become available until February 2011. He added that CCCTEC had been awarded a revolving loan under the Charter Schools Revolving Loan Fund (CSRLF), but his school only received the first half of the total payment. He indicated that the second half was withheld, and ultimately denied when the CSRLF became depleted in June 2011.
Mr. Preston provided a list of changes that CCCTEC was making to improve its program: new governing board, new student accounting system, new auditor, new accounting firm serving as back office provider, a new principal to assist the executive director, and improved screening of staff to ensure that only teachers in support of the CCCTEC program would be hired.
Mr. Preston closed by stating that he would like to work with the ACCS over the next two years to develop budgets, cash flow, and student enrollment.
Chair Bauer called for commissioner questions.
Chair Bauer recalled the proposed CCCTEC program when it was up for SBE authorization in May 2010, and expressed support for the program’s concept. He asked Mr. Preston to explain how CCCTEC would address its outstanding liabilities. Mr. Preston responded that the school would pay outstanding liabilities with revenues the school anticipates it will receive in the coming school year. This includes the second half of the CSRLF. He added, these revenues will disappear if the school is revoked.
Commissioner Thomsen asked for the grand total of payable salaries that has not been paid out yet. Mr. Preston responded that it was approximately $90,000. Mr. Commissioner Thomsen asked how many staff are owed any amount of money. Mr. Preston responded that it was 11 staff members. Commissioner Thomsen requested clarification about how the staff will be paid. Mr. Preston explained that the school anticipates revenues from various sources, and that the school can sell its receivables for temporary income. Commissioner Thomsen requested clarification on what was meant by “sell receivables”. Mr. Preston responded that he could sell incoming funds to another entity at a high interest rate for immediate access to the funds.
Chair Bauer expressed that he would need very specific financial information on how the budget would be rectified in order for him to deviate from CDE staff recommendation. Mr. Preston responded that he would like the commission to define what a reasonable amount of time to respond to the concerns in the notice of violation would be. He noted that he was given two and a half weeks to respond, and he doesn’t feel that this was a reasonable amount of time. Mr. Preston went on to identify specific elements that address the school’s finances, specifically indicating that he would file a PENSEC report that shows an increase in enrollment by 65 students.
Chair Bauer responded that the ACCS functions as an advisory body, and it could not consider the PENSEC report until it has been filed. He added that CCCTEC is being considered for revocation not just because of concerns over its future operation, but also because of its past operation. Chair Bauer noted that the next SBE meeting would occur in September, and he urged Mr. Preston to gather as much supporting evidence attesting to the school’s sustainability by that time.
Commissioner Porter expressed that this was a sincere effort to serve typically underserved students, and agreed with Chair Bauer that Mr. Preston should concentrate his efforts on preparing for the impending SBE meeting.
Commissioner Davis echoed the statements of Commissioner Porter, and commented that the school relied on funds that are generally unreliable.
Chair Bauer called for public comment.
Karl Machschefes (former CCCTEC teacher) explained that he was hired as a substitute teacher for the math department of the school, but was paid as a contractor and not as a teacher. He was not paid retirement benefits, or health insurance, and he was instructed to pay his own taxes. He expressed agreement with the concept of the school, but commented that the execution was lacking. He expressed support for revocation.
Michelle Low (CCSA) expressed support for CCCTEC, and stated that CCSA is committed to working with CCCTEC to resolve outstanding issues.
Michelle Vermelte (Probation Officer with Yolo County) clarified that there was no established agreement between Yolo County and CCCTEC. She urged the commission to ensure that students enrolled at CCCTEC be informed of these proceedings, and expressed concern that the student population would be difficult to place if the school closes.
Chair Bauer called for a motion.
- MOTION: Commissioner Porter moved to recommend to CDE staff that there is sufficient evidence to issue a Notice of Intent to Revoke, in order for the CDE to submit both the evidence presented by CCCTEC and the ACCS recommendation to the SBE at its September 7, 2011 meeting. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion.
- ACTION: The motioned is approved by a vote of six in favor and none opposed; Dr. Barber has recused herself from this item.
Item 5: Consideration of Requests From Nonclassroom-based Charter Schools for “Reasonable Basis”/Mitigating Circumstances Changes in Funding Determinations Based on the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11963.4(e) for California Virtual Academy San Diego, Crossroads Trade Tech Charter, Northwest Prep Piner-Olivet, Options for Youth Hermosa Beach, Options for Youth San Bernardino, Options for Youth Victorville, Opportunities for Learning Baldwin Park, Opportunities for Learning Baldwin Park II, Opportunities for Learning Hermosa Beach, and Opportunities for Learning Santa Clarita.
Dr. Barber returns to the dais.
Mr. Harris presented this item. Mr. Harris identifies a typo on Page 14. The recommendation for Crossroads Trade Tech should be 85 percent (the typo reads 0 percent). Mr. Harris explains that these items are for schools that did not meet the thresholds. They qualify for a certain level, but they are requesting a higher rate than their financials indicate that they qualify for. Mr. Harris asks if the Commissioners want him to consider each request or to handle it as a block.
Commissioners note that unless questions exist regarding a recommendation, they will move on it.
- MOTION: A motion is made to approve the CDE staff recommendation.
- ACTION: The motion is approved.
Kerri Mazzoni addresses the commission. They do not feel they should be in front of the ACCS because its prior action was to provide 85 percent funding level with mitigation. She alleges that the CDE is in violation of California Code of Regulations Section 11963.4. The ACCS prior recommendation shall be presented to the SBE. She notes that their request was pulled back from the SBE July 2011 agenda and questions under what authority that action was taken, as no other recommendations from the May meeting were pulled back. She believes the treatment was arbitrary and capricious, stating that there has been inconsistent application of regulatory standards. Ms. Mazzoni complains of lack of communication with the CSD staff and incorrect information. She presents the OFY and OFL charter school funding determination timeline. Ms. Mazzoni claims that several voicemails and e-mails she left all went unanswered. February 1 funding determination forms were submitted with the expectation to be on the April 6 meeting agenda. She claims the CDE did not make its 120 day requirement. On April 4, the CDE had questions about the use of averaging and said they would contact them. It is their opinion that the CDE was in violation of two Title V regulations. Three charter schools were recommended for 0 funding. Two would be reduced to 70% funding.
There are three reasons for instructional costs of 61.25 percent and certificated staff costs of 35 percent being in conflict with Title V regulations. Booking state funding on cash basis rather than accrual conflicts with GAAP. Request to count 60% of facility cost indicate instructional costs are being reduced. Extreme growth has necessitated the allocation.
They feel they are in a catch 22. Calculate funding without the 2 year averaging. They would still arrive at 85% funding for all schools. Compared to other schools on the May 31 ACCS agenda item. They had a concern. If the schools had calculated their funding in the same manner, two schools would have received 0 funding, 3 for 70 percent and 3 for 85 percent. They claim they have been less specific than other schools. However, they were more detailed. They used Santa Clarita as an example of one school that has asked for mitigation, but has been denied in the CDE’s recommendation. This school is in the process of opening in 2011-12 with an initial startup cost of $250,000 to $300,000. They presented a news clip showing the demand at the school for summer classes.
Commissioner Barber asked for clarification. The motion is for 85% for two years, but without mitigation. She asked what the difference would be, between 85% for two years, vs. 85% for two years without mitigation. The mitigation is for the revised thresholds. They will calculate it according to the regulatory buckets. It is a one time look and review.
Bill Toomey addressed the commission. The difference would be the spending requirements that they were given at the last SBE meeting. For example, the 40/80 requirement. They added five facilities to serve the students in Los Angeles. In their pre-approved mitigation, they were allowed to use 60 percent of facility costs towards mitigation.
They want the percentages 35/61.25 to be used in case they do not make the regular buckets in the next two years. They want the ability to budget as approved by the state board.
Commissioner Barber comments. She believes it is immaterial at this stage as far as whether or not they say mitigation. The question going back is the part of the mitigation, that it would be deemed approved until the charter school block grant was deemed to be brought back to normal levels.
Eric Premack addresses the commission. The SB 740 process has imploded on itself. The budgetary and cash flow environment when SB 740 was established is very different than what it is now. The school does not have a problem with this issue, but there will be an issue in the future. There is lots of talk on how to fix the regulations. None of them have gotten traction. It is time to fix this mess.
- MOTION: A motion is made to approve.
- ACTION: The motion is approved.
Attachment 1, schools 214, 1130, 1131, 13, CDE recommendation with 70 percent for two years. Because mitigating circumstances should be calculated per school, CDE staff was asked to unbundle that to reflect the individual circumstances for school. At the previous vote, the CDE took no position. Commissioner Hunkapiller abstained from the voting. ACCS meetings have been moved to six weeks lead times for SBE items. CDE Chief Deputy asked for all of it to be recalculated based on regulations.
Commissioner Barber asked the commissioners to look at page 7 and 8 of 14 and the write up of the schools and compare them to the chart and individual nonclassroom based funding determinations on each one, they are all different. The final data is on pages 7 and 8. These numbers are based on an independent audited report from 2009-10. The attachment for four of the schools used 2 years of averaged data. She asked how to get to an 85 percent for Baldwin Park. If they look at their chart, they get 31 and 54. Charter 402, should be 76 percent and 43/44. On the four they are considering now, the commission has the authority and right to recognize mitigating factors, but could recognize mitigation in other areas, like excluding one time expenditures, etc.
Commissioner Ryan asked for the school’s timeline and whether it was accurate. The CDE staff denies their claims.
Chair Bauer asked to review items to make sure everyone is referencing the correct topics.
- MOTION: Commissioner Barber moves for two years with 85% mitigation recognized as, reducing expenditures levels commensurate at least at 85%. Commissioner Porter seconds. Commissioner Porter seconds.
Ms. Mazzoni addressed the commission. She stated they are willing to not do the two-year averaging. Operationally it would be nice. For the record, when they were before the board last time, they were concerned with different standards being set. As Commissioner Barber well pointed out, the CDE used the same numbers on the forms. Bill Toomey indicates those were not the numbers submitted to the CDE, and is an example of having their numbers used differently.
- ACTION: Unanimous vote. Commissioner Hunkapiller Abstains.
Item 6: Petition for the Establishment of a Charter School under the Oversight of the State Board of Education: Consideration of the Synergy Charter School Charter Petition, which was denied by the Pittsburg Unified School District and Contra Costa County Office of Education
Bonnie Galloway presented this item. Synergy Charter School petition describes an educational program centered on project based learning, personalized learning, focused on health and wellness. The petition contains reasonably comprehensive descriptions of the 16 elements. However, it does not meet all the elements, as the budget and cash flow are unrealistic. Synergy Charter School is unlikely to successfully implement the program described in the petition. The CDE worked with the petitioners to get revised budget documents. However, the edits were more material than technical. Therefore, in order for the SBE to consider it, the local district and county boards must review the new documents. The CDE recommends that the SBE deny the petition.
Commissioner Ryan asked if the Legal Division said that the material revisions cannot be considered.
Ms. Galloway clarified that the Legal Division said the materials considered locally must be considered by the SBE. If a change to the budget changes the basic educational program, then the CDE has to make a decision on if it is technical, or if it fixes something that was deficient in the petition. In this case, some of the changes in the budget addressed the same findings as the local district and county office of education.
Commissioner Porter asked for a timeline.
Pittsburg Unified School District: December 15. Contra Costa County Office of Education: February 16, maybe March or April, they let the petitioners know that they could not recommend approval and they requested time, so the CDE pushed back to this ACCS meeting.
Commissioner Barber appreciated the technical vs. material changes clarification. She said if the charter school concurs that substantial changes were made and if the commission agrees that they can not consider something dramatically different. Then it may not be a productive use of time for us to debate issues around this. Commissioner Barber noted that even if the petitioners made fabulous changes, and are fiscally sound, she still was not sure she could make that assessment. She said the commission would still send it back. She asked if it was worth having an hour or two debate, if that was going to be the conclusion. That is the narrow issue the commission wants to have a discussion on first. If they want to argue that these are minor, then perhaps we can consider. If they concur there were substantial changes, couldn’t they get back there sooner than later.
Chair Bauer asked about the technical and material amendments. There was not a ninth grade planned in the initial year. They increased and expanded enrollment. Their original proposal for enrollment was 225.
Commissioner Ryan reemphasized that they needed to ask the petitioner if they see it as material or technical. If it is information known last December, then you should have known how challenging it could be. It is whether or not these are minor adjustments. It is whether or not we are confident.
Julie Briggs clarified that it was an increase of 100, from 225 to 325.
Patricia Townsend, with Synergy Charter School, commented. When they heard concerns from the CDE staff, they worked on a plan to address those concerns. They wanted a definition between a technical amendment and a substantive change. The CDE staff did not have a definition of the difference. What was sent by e-mail were revised budgets and information. They did take the CDE’s recommendation to add grade nine, but reduced numbers in grades six through eight.
Commissioner Ryan asked the petitioners if their current plan is a substantive change in their opinion.
Patricia Townsend responded. Nobody has given us clarification as to what a substantive change means, basically tells us is that we have no ability to respond. We are stuck between a rock and a hard spot. Controversy over the amount of encroachment. Suggested that we have way too little money for encroachment. We see 30 percent all the way to zero. We are supposed to come up with something that is reasonable. So we worked with CCSA and collected local data to come up with what we think is reasonable. Adjusted to the May revise, deferral, etc. Should we have known about the one percent COLA? When we did Charter Launch with CCSA, we got the budget with 1 percent COLA. It is substantively different. I will accept that. The latest iteration to the budget addresses a lot of the concerns.
Commissioner Ryan clarified that the petitioners have to push it back to the local district.
Commissioner Porter thought it is a wonderful proposal. Instructionally it is right on target. Some of the comments are the same as the CDE comments. It needs a shot at the local jurisdiction. You can get more cooperation.
Commission Barber asked for clarification on where the 100 students are coming from, the number of EL students, and the number of students eligible for free and reduced price meals. Discrepancies between the budget and budget narrative were found and some understatement of teacher salaries. Level of detail provided as budget assumptions, there was not enough detail to substantiate expenditures and revenues. It’s not that the numbers felt okay, it is just that not all the information was presented.
Commissioner Thomsen commented if the petitioners are pushed back a year into the process, they need to be very conservative and cautious with the budget. It may be best to wait a year to plan. The petitioners indicated fairly early on, that it may not be their intention to open this coming fiscal year.
Commissioner Porter asked a representative to speak from Pittsburgh Unified School District.
Bill Schutz for Pittsburgh Unified School District commented. The district has to diligently review any proposal. Is it in the best interest of the students from the district who will attend that charter school. The district did what it needed to do. Simply, the petition did not meet the legal requirements. We asked how the charter would be able to fiscally serve special populations such as special education students.
Commissioner Porter asked how many charter schools are in the Pittsburgh USD.
Mr. Schutz responded, “Zero.“
Commissioner Porter asked. Is this the first petition?
Mr. Schutz responded, “He cannot speak to that.”
Jane Shimeya, Contra Costa County Office of Education commented. The petition was denied by the County Board over fiscal issues and special populations. The Public Charter School Grant Program (PCSGP) is unreliable and the Revolving Loan Fund are unreliable because funding depends on the location of the school. It has very specific criteria that the closest school is in Program Improvement or Title I School Improvement. The other revenue source is the Revolving Loan. Most of the disbursements have been around $100,000. This particular loan fund is depleted. These two sources make 40 percent of their budget. Also in the area of the budget are understated expenditures, particularly special education general fund contribution, $24,000 in the first year. The County Office has two charters. One gets special education funding from the local district and they are charged much more. The other areas are English Learner and Special Education. They address first two levels, but not the two highest levels. Only half a plan. In special education, they talk about students with learning disabilities, only one of thirteen. They might recommend an alternate placement if they can not serve them.
Michelle Low expressed concern with the idea of material vs. technical basis, as there is no statutory nor regulatory basis. The ACCS’ role is to look at the petition with fresh eyes. The intent is to encourage new educational experiences and programs.
Commissioner Ryan comments that he is concerned on several levels. If the role is to see with a fresh set of eyes, this is diametrically opposed to what we heard from CDE staff.
Jill Rice, in the CDE Legal Division, indicated that the basis of the interpretation is that the same petition needs to be reviewed 47607 may submit “the” petition. The same petition. Not a new petition, better, nor revised petition. What is clear in the intent is that it is to be locally authorized schools. We would like to see the SBE get out of the business of authorizing charters.
Judy Cias comments that the ACCS is an appeal body and must look at the same documentation and the discussion behind it.
Commissioner Ryan notes that the petitioner acknowledged that it is a different petition. Therefore, this is the basis of the discussion.
Chair Bauer wants the material difference with the budget.
Commissioner Barber says she is looking at a new budget. And it is $645,000 out of $1.2 million. 50% is half of the budget and has questionable sources. This is what both the district and the Contra Costa County Office of Education sees.
Chair Bauer is looking for change in the budget, more students, change in program that has greater expense, etc.
Michelle Tryner—board member and parent—The reason I decided to volunteer is that our community needs an alternative place for our kids to get an education. There is going to be a point where homeschooling will not work with our family. Confident in project based learning and leadership team.
Khayla DiGiorgio—If I did not start in kindergarten, I would not have gotten the same education. We work in groups based on assessment scores. On Wednesday, we get to have fun. We have education electives and a list of things to get done by the end of the week. We rotate teachers every trimester. It helps us be more independent and get ready for the real world.
Linda Ramsey—As a person in education, I have worked in three districts, went to schools in Richmond. Worked at a school where population is like Pittsburgh’s. It is a superb program. I know nothing about finances, but that area definitely needs support. I am a therapist.
Nick Driver—If we are past the material and substantive issue. We have heard a lot about substance of the petition that it is great. We have worked with this school in charter launch program including Contra Costa and Pittsburgh Unified to figure out best way. There are specifics around the PCSGP and the CSRLF that we encourage they put it in. We believe they will be eligible. We feel the same with the Revolving Loan. Even if they could not get all $250,000, they can get an amount close to that.
Eric Premack—Watching this discussion on whether we are supposed to amend budget on fiscal situation changed in March reminded me of the Kafka novel (The Trial). We have a serious process problem in using this time as a financial plan not as a guide of will it work today, but was it reasonable at the time. Some level of fiscal understanding of the fiscal realities. Given the current fiscal situation, I would argue that it is unfair to assume they can do a 5 to 9 year projection. These are the numbers that are out there. They are getting nickled and dimed and processed to death. Unreasonable and take a look at it again.
Chair Bauer—I am not satisfied that there are material issues to the budget. What I have heard raised is that the school may not have reliable revenue sources, grant, loan, and financing.
Julie Briggs speaks about the Revolving Loan Fund Program—at the end of 2009-10, the funds were depleted. There were low numbers in 2010-11. It is hard to say if the school is eligible or not.
Chair Bauer asks if they have to be in the pipeline to get the loan. Is the window of opportunity to apply, the first in line, etc? Do they get a 50/50 shot?
Ms. Briggs responds. I had concerns with uncertainty. I made a statement in an e-mail narrative that they would be making significant changes to the budget. Without the detail with how they arrive at certain numbers in the budget, there is no way to validate that it can actually happen.
Chair Bauer—What details are missing: Student enrollment?
Ms. Briggs responds. Facilities and the sharing of facilities with the independent study program. There were no details how costs would be allocated, whether it will be affordable for each of the petitions. The calculations looked like they were understated. There were no funds for audits or legal services, etc, if they needed to add substantial amounts to expenditures for that purpose.
Would that be a substantial revision to add those costs?
Ms. Briggs responds. Yes, in my opinion. That was budgeted for $4,500 for professional consulting services.
Chair Bauer—I am not prepared to move it forward with a no recommendation. I have a lot of unanswered questions about the thresholds, material/technical, issues with district and county, etc. I have some solace in the fact that it is July, so a year from now. If there is a means or a way for some of these unresolved issues to get fixed, then we need to do that.
Commissioner Porter—I think that is a reasonable recommendation.
Commissioner Davis—If we have figured out whether or not it is a substantial change, if staff feels that the threshold has been crossed it may not be resolved. If there is a glimmer of hope, let’s slow it down.
Chair Bauer—What is the criteria for a material revision to a budget? I agree, there is no reason to send an individual back if there is not common ground.
Commissioner Thomsen—A lot of the comments are about getting more information for clarification. I would rather look at a budget that reflects a more accurate picture.
Commissioner Barber—Even if they came in with material revisions then we can’t review it. If they didn’t revise, it’s still deficient. Dr. Barber cautions to think through the recommendation for the petitioner’s well being.
Chair Bauer. They have to agree to come back. They may request to go forward to the board without recommendation. They can also decide to resubmit with a revised budget to the local district. There are a lot of options today. I’m not prepared to say yes or no today. You need 5 votes to get recommendation.
Commissioner Ryan: I hear you say you haven’t had a chance to present and we need to give you a chance to present. If you are saying you have this great program that you propose; you should have the opportunity to speak and we should hear you. Question for CDE staff: is there any hope that if the school worked with you there would be an amicable solution that if the petition was reviewed / revised then you would work with them. If the answer is yes, then take it and run. If no, then that’s another position.
Commissioner Hunkapiller: The answer is no, the CDE staff will not consider revised budgets.
Chair Bauer: Do you have something to present today regarding your financial position that is different here today other than what staff has said?
Petitioner: We will not present on the educational program; it’s obvious that we have a great program. We did not submit revised budgets because we were told they would be substantive and thus would not matter. We have worked with CDE and it has been great to work with them.
(Petitioners present two slides). The first slide addresses the revised budget and narrative. It includes new information and technical amendments. The second slide includes information on substantive amendments and additional clarification in the revised narrative. Agrees that they did not provide CDE sufficient detail, however, they did review the information with CCSA and found it to be clear and did no understand how it was lacking. Not sure why they wouldn’t qualify for PCSGP since Pittsburg has two Program Improvement middle schools.
Commissioner Ryan: You used the CCSA school assumptions worksheet (looking at revised one), p. 2, salaries, it rounds up; we know this because we work with this template. However, somebody who doesn’t work with the template wouldn’t know. These numbers don’t’ match up with the narrative. Someone should go in there and adjust the numbers.
Petitioners: I think this becomes an issue of confidence. Can we address any budget issues that may present themselves. We assured the county that we would not open the schools if we did not have funding 60 days prior to opening. We would not open a school that has major challenges and catastrophic issues facing it.
Chair Bauer: Your clarification, in my mind, there’s enough time to verify if these funding streams will be available to you (between now and the beginning of the school year).
Petitioner: You used to pre-screen and pre-apply to know if you would be eligible. That’s not available anymore. We won’t know.
Commissioner Barber: Does petitioner have a recommendation for us?
Chair Bauer: Move on recommendation today? Postpone to next ACCS meeting? Staff will not change recommendation. Or move forward to the SBE?
Commissioner Ryan: I do have confidence. They have a sound educational plan; sound sense of budget climate. My gut feeling is that it will not find itself in trouble because they said they wouldn’t go down a troubled road. I understand staff that states there is no middle ground. I would like to see a win-win. So, I am frustrated because whether we recommend nothing or not, there will be a potential winner and loser.
Commissioner Porter: I am concerned that CDE staff will not work with petitioners. I am having a hard time as a superintendent saying that I would not tell my own staff that I would not look at changes. The school looks good. Somebody from staff oughta say either they nailed it or didn’t. We should recommend to the SBE that CDE should look at this.
Commissioner Hunkapiller: We have had many interactions with the petitioners. My decision is based on whether there are sources of funds that are viable. Fiscally, this school is unable to operate. This part, with out substantial changes cannot operate. Unless we are willing to do that, which we are not, statutorily, able to do. We have spent hours reviewing what information is material.
Commissioner Porter: It is almost better to say no so that they can start all over. It would be better for the school. I think we’re better to approve staff recommendation so that the petitioner can change their petition and get their petition moving.
Petitioner: So are you saying you will not address the material revision discussion?
Chair Bauer: We are in discussion.
Petitioner: I would recommend that you do. Because we can then come back with revisions. I think there is a lot of confusion about this topic. Only issue is the apportionment deferrals.
Chair Bauer: Is it the position of the CDE staff that budget adjustments (PCSGP and Revolving Loan) are material?
Commissioner Hunkapiller: Yes, he revolving loan chance is 50/50.
Chair Bauer: We have had other petitions with these grants in the budget and it’s typical that the school moves forward with conditions or it won’t open.
Julie Briggs: It’s happened in the past, but in the past there was a higher probability of being awarded a grant (80/20).
Commissioner Ryan: Is there not some way, through a motion with conditions, one condition being that it goes back to staff then if xyz funding does not come out, then the school will not open. Motion, move that we forward with recommendation for SBE approval with conditions, that should revenue sources identified in budget not materialize, the school agrees it must find alternate ones or will not open. School will continue to work with CDE staff to ensure that narratives continue to reflect fiscal stability.
Commissioner Barber: It goes back to trust. I think these people are wonderful educators; we all work in a variety of places with fantastic ideas and can implement them but they do not have fiscal background. I am concerned that financial information was not submitted long before today. I am concerned that what was submitted today still relies heavily upon grant funds. Finances are half of the equation; no instructional program can stand higher than the finances presented. There are so many things here that should be sending off warning bells and the CDE is telling us. The program is good but I would encourage them to get financial expertise and go back through the process. If they get better, great. I cannot vote for this if it is not viable.
Commissioner Porter: We have heard all our thoughts. I agree with what has been said. The Petitioner is great.
Commissioner Davis: There are no substantial findings to deny the petition. We have the district and county findings.
Commissioner Thomsen: Speaks against the motion. Is there a benefit to have the school withdraw rather than have us move? I don’t understand the materiality issues. The changes to the revolving loan seem just prudent and good financial accounting.
Chair Bauer: I am not in support of this motion; I still have too many questions. All in favor of motion which is to recommend staff recommendation of no.
Chair Bauer: I would like clarity on materiality vs. technical.
Commissioner Porter: I am not hearing that there will be a change in staff recommendation. The advantage here; what will happen if it plays out; they come back in two months and they just sit in limbo. My justification is that these issues get addressed (with this motion) and they can move forward to the district.
Chair Bauer: They are free to do it.
Commissioner Davis: I need time.
- MOTION: Chair Bauer: Move to bring back to this commission for the September meeting and that at that point we have some clarification from legal regarding material vs. technical and specific updates on the budget and that we have time to review the budget.
Commissioner Davis: Seconded.
Commissioner Barber: I could support the motion if it gives counsel to the petitioner that what we received today is not adequate. Not using one-time only monies; income sources are documented; not just receiving it the day of meeting or on September 27 from petitioner. I want this in timely manner.
- ACTION: All in favor; no abstentions.
Item: 7: Petition for the Establishment of a Charter School Under the Oversight of the State Board of Education: Consideration of the Synergy Independent Study School Charter Petition, Which Was Denied by the Pittsburg Unified School District and Contra Costa County Office of Education
(Petitioner will withdraw item.)
Item 8: Petition for the Establishment of a Charter School Under the Oversight of the State Board of Education: Consideration of the PACE Academy Charter Petition, Which Was Denied by the Chico Unified School District and Butte County Office of Education
Dmitriy Voloshin presents item to establish PACE. The petition is not consistent with sound educational practice. There are three areas lacking: the curricular and program elements for all grades is not substantial. The budget is not sustainable. The petition does not have the required number of signatures. Does not provide comprehensive description of program. Budget: the budgets for the PCSGP and class-size reduction are not guaranteed. There are many other concerns; Signatures. The submitted signatures only represent 18 students. This falls short of there being at least ½ the pupils required by statute. The CDE recommends denial of the petition.
Commissioner Barber: Can the petitioners please address the signature issue first.
PACE: Paul Webber principal for Chico Country Day School. We are petitioners along with the Boys and Girls Club. We realize that the signatures are short from that required in statute; we thought it was adequate. It’s our position that it would be very easy to acquire the necessary signatures. We have tremendous amount of interest for this school in Chico. This is a K-8 school, should be based on K-8 rather than. . .
Chair Bauer: I am not sure we can take this issue up. The requirement is to gather further signatures. What would legal say?
Mr. Voloshin: It is legal’s opinion that there are not sufficient signatures.
Commissioner Barber: To clarify; Do we have any discretion? If it’s a statutory requirement, do they have to go back? Or, can they just gather additional signatures or not?
Commissioner Davis: Do we have a legal opinion that we can gather further signature?
Mr. Voloshin: Reads code regarding signature requirement.
PACE: That is not a legal opinion. Please be sure of your footing.
Chair Bauer: We may not be able to take action. The best case scenario is that you return here in a couple of months, or you go back to your local district. Gary were you asking whether petitioner could go back and get signatures?
Commissioner Davis: Not suggesting, but rather maybe we could include a condition.
Chair Bauer: To save you time, we should take some action with conditions of our own. Some of what we are waiting on to hear may or may not be conclusive. This way you could at least exercise your right to go back to the SBE. If we get a different response from legal, that we can consider, then you may be able to come back.
PACE: We would have the opportunity to talk about our educational program. So that we can clarify some of the concerns the CDE brought up.
Commissioner Davis: Does this staff report go through legal review?
Commissioner Barber: There are substantial concerns, beyond technical amendments. Concerns with curricular programs; budget concerns similar to prior perhaps grater because not eligible. Then there is this signature piece. Even if signatures are remedied, these other concerns are substantial.
PACE: We have a strong record of success in charter business. We have one of the highest scores in the entire district for serving under-served youth. We believe our program is viable.
Chair Bauer: If you want to proceed with your presentation for process, that’s fine. I can’t support the petition because of the signature piece.
PACE: Moves forward with their presentation. County findings are not facts rather just suppositions.
Commissioner Porter: Who authorized you originally?
PACE: Chico Unified
Commissioner Porter: How many charters are in Chico Unified?
Chair Bauer asks if the district or county office of education would like to speak.
Allison Watson/Butte County Office of Education: It’s a pleasure to be here today. I’m the lead for the Butte County Office of Education charter review. I also do categorical review. We completely support the CDE’s staff recommendation. We found it quite a match with ours. I just want to reinforce and support.
John Buchanan/Director of Alternative Education from Chico Unified School District: We support the COE and the CDE’s findings. Do not support letter PACE to back and get more signatures. They should start from scratch and come back to us.
Commissioner Ryan: I would like to congratulate the Chico Country Day School on clearly doing some good work. I wanted to publicly recognize that.
Chair Bauer: Margaret and Paul have stellar reputations. Any public comment?
Michele Low with CCSA: There are always many legal interpretations to issues and I appreciate the commission’s willingness to address.
Eric Premack, CSDC: I do not believe in only getting signatures from parents that will enroll in first year. Statute says that it must include signatures of ………later it specifies that it shall include a promise statement that the signature means the child is meaningfully interested in attending the charter school. It doesn’t say in the first year. I don’t think the law meant that parents would be deprived of signing is they want their student to enroll 2-3 years down the road. I don’t know much about the substance of the charter but am familiar with the reputation of Paul and Margaret.
Chairman Bauer: So in a petition that states that a charter will serve kindergarten through grade 1, what does it mean for a parent to sign if their child is not eligible?
Chairman Bauer: If my child is in 4th grade, but school starts in kindergarten, then when will my child ever attend. What does it matter that you are meaningfully interested if you cannot attend?
Commissioner Ryan: The point of legislation is to ensure that you have viable enrollment on day one. Point of legislation, at least half of the signatures would provide authorizers that enrollment is achievable.
Mr. Premack: You can have teachers or students.
Chairman Bauer: They chose students.
Mr. Premack: It’s not really a fiscal thing. It’s a threshold from keeping flaky people from throwing junk at the board.
Chairman Bauer: Motion?
Commissioner Barber: Do they want us to move forward?
Chairman Bauer: Asks petitioners.
PACE: (Commissioner Barber: while they caucus; not sure why not decrease down to 35). Would this commission consider us coming back to your next meeting with suggested recommendations in place that came from staff?
Chairman Bauer: The fundamental issue is the signature piece. Not sure there is much we can do without addressing the signature issue.
PACE/Reece: would like to see what legal says about signatures. We will go back if legal disagrees. We believe in our ability to be successful. We are not planning on opening in September because the timeline is too short now. We’re confident we could open with full classes. For the broader charter school movement, we need a decision on the signatures. So that people can have clarification.
Chairman Bauer: There are still issues around the education program not addressed today.
Commissioner Barber: Could we request to have the CDE address this question. I personally think that with the weight of the other concerns identified you will want to go back to the district. You have a charter friendly district; don’t you think that going back to district would be more productive.
PACE/Reece: Disagreed that having eight charter schools means that the district is charter friendly.
Commissioner Barber: Suggested that PACE clean up their petition in order to answer and clear up all the questions. When we do a charter it is very thin because of all our policies. You have a great reputation so you may have had a thin charter whether it was requested is not the issue; you are required to provide a comprehensive charter.
PACE/Reece: Our charter does meet the sixteen elements required.
- MOTION: Commissioner Barber: Motion to accept CDE’s recommendation.
Commissioner Davis: Seconds the Motion.
- ACTION: Unanimous
Commissioner Hunkapiller: Review of start times and upcoming ACCS meeting dates. We will forward you a few dates for this room that are six weeks ahead of time.
Chairman Bauer: My recommendation is that we meet in this room. The other room was too claustrophobic. I would like to see a primer/review on SB 740 funding determinations and mitigation.
Commissioner Hunkapiller: Eric Premack and Colin Miller both offered to provide training. Eric would you speak at our next meeting?
Chairman Bauer: We typically start at 10:00 am; travel prohibited earlier start. Perhaps an overnight stay.
Commissioner Hunkapiller: If you come in for a briefing, then the SBE pays for it.
Trish Williams, Liaison from the SBE: Yes.
Chairman Bauer: The thinking for next meeting is to start with SB 740.
Commissioner Porter: My preference would be 9:30 am.
Chairman Bauer: We will start at 9:30 am at our next meeting; and begin with SB 740.
Commissioner Ryan: I am very concerned with the LAUSD boilerplate language. Oakland is using boilerplate language and rejecting.
Ms. Galloway: She promised that before the board leaves they would be receiving their oaths.