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April 2023 ACCS - Item 2 Public Comment 4

Public Comment 4 received for Agenda Item 2 of the April 18, 2023, Advisory Commission on Charter Schools meeting.
Important Notice

The following information was provided on La Vida Charter letterhead. Except when needed for accessibility purposes, no corrections to spelling, grammatical, or typographical errors have been made. The Charter Schools Division understands the following acronyms to mean: ADA = average daily attendance; P-2 = Second Principal Apportionment; P-1 = First Principal Apportionment; TK = Transitional Kindergarten.

To receive a copy of the below communication in its original format, contact the Charter Schools Division by email at

Item 02, Attachment 32, Charter #0822

14 April 2023

Regarding Public Comment on Item 02 Attachment 32, La Vida Charter School, Charter #0822, Funding Determination Mitigation Request.

Dear Esteemed Commissioners:

Due to a major school event scheduled for the same day as this meeting, the La Vida Charter School Administrator will not be able to attend the April 18, 2024 meeting, and provides this letter instead. The school hopes that a Board Member will be able to attend.

The Charter School’s Division has recommended the Denial of the Mitigation Request of the Funding Determination and is recommending 85% funding for the next two years. It is true that the 80% Instructional Related target was 9.4% less (at 70.6%). The certificated target was met at 40.47%. In perusing the other schools’ mitigation requests that received approval recommendations, it seems that La Vida’s situation is similar to some, and we strongly believe that it merits another consideration.

It is worth noting that La Vida just finished its WASC (Western Association of Schools & Colleges) Accreditation six year self study, and was awarded the rating of a Highly Effective School by the WASC Visiting Team.

Here is a summary of key points.

  • La Vida is a small school with 88 students last year, with 78 ADA for P-2. Located in Rural Northern California, everyone drives a country distance on steep and winding roads.
  • The school suffered an unusual year with a number of significant setbacks.
  • Losses to the small staff: 2 out of 7 teachers exited in the spring for different reasons, causing instructional expenditures to be lower than usual.
    • Some back story: Besides being an emotional upheaval causing a disruption in business as usual. The remaining 5 teachers and the director filled in for the last three months. Additionally one substitute teacher was hired to take six students. The director took on the high school teacher's load of students and was not compensated and this was not calculated in any of the funding determination formulas.
    • Note: The Teacher shortage was felt county wide which was understaffed and had approximately 200 teacher openings for much of the year. La Vida was fortunate to have all positions filled until the spring exits. Being small, wages are lower than elsewhere and it is a long drive (however beautiful) and gas very high, Hiring fulltime replacements was pretty much out of the question causing the instructional expenditures to be lower.
  • Secondly- The illness and final passing away of the long time business manager was a major impact on the school in general and especially on the funds and resources management for the entire year and a portion of the previous year. New restricted resources were not tracked. There was little monitoring of the Funding Determination coding and percentages.
    • The school contracted with Total School Solutions at a high hourly rate at the beginning of the current year to do the closing for 2021-22 and continues forward for now.
  • Third- The school was blindsided with Special Ed due process legal complaint cases that the school had never before experienced in its 21 years. This required relatively extensive legal support that was unexpected and the school had to reallocate funds that were planned for educational purposes. Settlements were reached with some financial obligation carry over into the current year.
  • Regarding the Charter Office concerns about the high unexpended balance, $373,188 here is a break down:
    Restricted funds- 43% $161.168
    Required Reserve 13.5% $50,000
    Planned staff increases 4.5% $16,839
    Board Account 10% $37, 821 (The account has no public funds)
    Unexpended balance as a reserve for declining ADA 29% $107,360
    • This 29% was critically needed for the 22-23 year First Interim Budget, because P-1 was low, 70 ADA and 10 students less for the unduplicated pupil count.
  • (Also note- at the moment the school’s website is down because it was part of the county office of ed server that is held hostage in a recent cyber ransom ware attack.)

La Vida Charter School hopes that you can see the unusual nature of the year that skewed the financial picture that the funding determination report was based on and that you would consider full funding.

La Vida is a specialized country school that serves students in TK/ Kindergarten through 12th grade with personal learning plans and Rudolf Steiner inspired methods. It is expensive and a funding level of 85% would be a hardship for the school community and the quality of education for the students. Please approve full funding. Thank You.


The La Vida Leadership Team

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Last Reviewed: Monday, April 17, 2023
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