Valley Oak Charter Plan Moving Forward Rapidly

On Wednesday evening, around 30 parents gathered at the Valley Oak Elementary School multipurpose room to discuss the future of Valley Oak and the steps needed to take in the formation of Charter School.

The presentation was led by Mike Egan, who is a California Teacher’s Association (CTA) representative whose job is to help facilitate the creation of a charter school. For me this represents a vast sea-change over where the teacher’s union was in the mid-1990s on the issue of charter schools when they were generally hostile to the notion.

One thing that is clear now is that the formation of a charter school at Valley Oak Elementary School will not be opposed by the Davis Teacher’s Association (DTA) and has some strong support from both teacher’s at Valley Oak and elsewhere. It also has the personal support of the president of the DTA. That is a very important hurdle in the formation of a charter school–to ensure that you have teacher’s willing to take part in the process.

It is important to understand that under the rules of a charter school no teacher can be required to work in a private school. However, a teacher does have the right to request to work in one and the right to return to their district when they are done working in a charter school.

Likewise no student is required to attend a charter school, but students are allowed to return to the district if they so desire.

Part of signature requirement appeared to be from my understanding of the presentation that around 50% of the teacher’s who would be proposed to teach at the charter school must sign the petition. Also 50% of the parents who believe there is a reasonable chance that their child will attend the charter school must sign as well. In the application they must specify the number of teachers and students that will comprise the charter school. Something on the order of 70 students is a minimum for viability.

Under the California Charter Schools Act of 1992, the school cannot discriminate against students for any reason, it cannot charge tuition, and it cannot be sectarian.

There are five reasons that can be bases for denial of charter status–otherwise the district must accept a properly chartered school petition. First, a district can deny a charter on the basis of an unsound educational program. Second, if they deem the petitioners unlikely to successfully implement the program described. Third, if the petition does not have the required number of signatures. Fourth, if the petition does not included the required affirmation (see the previous paragraph with respect to what the school cannot do). Fifth, the petition does not include a comprehensive description of 16 required elements.

As one can see from that list however, it gives the school district a good deal of latitude for judgment calls especially on on the first two aspects and probably the fifth aspect as well. What it comes down to is that if a district is dead-set against the formation of a charter school they can make it difficult and throw up roadblocks. As Mr. Egan suggested on Wednesday, there have however been successful charters with hostile districts and boards.

The suggestion was made however that the interim superintendent was at least not dead-set against the formation of the charter school and that in general he had a favorable disposition towards charter schools. However, he would likely need to see the specifics of the proposal before supporting this particular charter school.

California would then pass Proposition 39 in the year 2000 by a 53-47 margin. In addition to lowering the requirements for local votes to 55% from two-thirds, it also requires school districts to provide charter schools with reasonably equivalent facilities to those provided to students in the area where the charter school students reside. This measure took effect on November 8, 2003, generally requiring all California school districts to provide facilities to charter schools that meet the requirements of the regulations. The deadline to apply for facilities for a given school year under Proposition 39 is October 1 of the previous fiscal year for an existing charter school and prior to December 31 of the previous fiscal year for a new charter school.

Basically school district have to make available to charter schools facilities sufficient to accommodate all in district students “reasonably equivalent to schools they otherwise would have attended.” It requires a minimum of 80 in district students. It is substantially rent free, however there is an oversight percentage of 1% of 3% (depending on certain factors). The charter pays operations and maintenance costs. The district is not responsible for out of district students–however, any inter-district transfer is additional money for the district. And finally if there is any facilities encroachment on the general fund, the charter may have to pay for that. The district shall make a reasonable effort to accommodate a request for location, size, and the facility being contiguous.

Finally, it requires a very strict timeline.

  1. Charter petition must be submitted before November 15, 2007 (by November 14)
  2. Must submit facilities request before January 1, 2008 (by December 31)
  3. Must be able to demonstrate meaningful interest from 80 in-district ADA at the time the facilities request is submitted to the school district
  4. Charter petition must be approved before March 1, 2008

That timeline basically puts a huge impetus on a contingent of people to help draw up the charter and get this process moving by this summer. As such they created a tentative timeline for charter organization and submission. Please click here to read it.

Finally any community members interested in volunteering should do so by clicking here.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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12 comments

  1. David,

    Thanks for the information in your report. I didn’t realize that the district would have to give classroom space to a charter school. That, to my mind, makes a big difference, as the Valley Oak families would naturally want the charter school to be at the Valley Oak site. Conveniently, that space will be available come the 2008-09 school year.

    I recall that Davis Demographics and Planning found that there are 220 children (this year) in the Valley Oak attendance area. I would guess that some of these 220 might be a bit closer to Birch Lane or another elementary, while some not in that number might be closer to Valley Oak. So if you figure 220 is a good ballpark number, the charter school will only have to attract 4 of every 11 kids to get off the ground. That doesn’t seem to difficult to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could get 8 in 11. They would need 7 in 11 to have 20 kids in each K-6 class.

    While I personally have no idea what the bulk of families of Valley Oak kids would want out of a charter school there — they ought to survey the families as thoroughly as possible to find out — I would guess that beyond offering ordinary K-6 classrooms, they might attract more kids to the charter if they offered a Spanish immersion class (offering a closer alternative to Cesar Chavez for some kids) and maybe some other magnet classroom that is not otherwise offered in Davis schools.

    “It is important to understand that under the rules of a charter school no teacher can be required to work in a private school.”

    Private school?

  2. David,

    Thanks for the information in your report. I didn’t realize that the district would have to give classroom space to a charter school. That, to my mind, makes a big difference, as the Valley Oak families would naturally want the charter school to be at the Valley Oak site. Conveniently, that space will be available come the 2008-09 school year.

    I recall that Davis Demographics and Planning found that there are 220 children (this year) in the Valley Oak attendance area. I would guess that some of these 220 might be a bit closer to Birch Lane or another elementary, while some not in that number might be closer to Valley Oak. So if you figure 220 is a good ballpark number, the charter school will only have to attract 4 of every 11 kids to get off the ground. That doesn’t seem to difficult to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could get 8 in 11. They would need 7 in 11 to have 20 kids in each K-6 class.

    While I personally have no idea what the bulk of families of Valley Oak kids would want out of a charter school there — they ought to survey the families as thoroughly as possible to find out — I would guess that beyond offering ordinary K-6 classrooms, they might attract more kids to the charter if they offered a Spanish immersion class (offering a closer alternative to Cesar Chavez for some kids) and maybe some other magnet classroom that is not otherwise offered in Davis schools.

    “It is important to understand that under the rules of a charter school no teacher can be required to work in a private school.”

    Private school?

  3. David,

    Thanks for the information in your report. I didn’t realize that the district would have to give classroom space to a charter school. That, to my mind, makes a big difference, as the Valley Oak families would naturally want the charter school to be at the Valley Oak site. Conveniently, that space will be available come the 2008-09 school year.

    I recall that Davis Demographics and Planning found that there are 220 children (this year) in the Valley Oak attendance area. I would guess that some of these 220 might be a bit closer to Birch Lane or another elementary, while some not in that number might be closer to Valley Oak. So if you figure 220 is a good ballpark number, the charter school will only have to attract 4 of every 11 kids to get off the ground. That doesn’t seem to difficult to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could get 8 in 11. They would need 7 in 11 to have 20 kids in each K-6 class.

    While I personally have no idea what the bulk of families of Valley Oak kids would want out of a charter school there — they ought to survey the families as thoroughly as possible to find out — I would guess that beyond offering ordinary K-6 classrooms, they might attract more kids to the charter if they offered a Spanish immersion class (offering a closer alternative to Cesar Chavez for some kids) and maybe some other magnet classroom that is not otherwise offered in Davis schools.

    “It is important to understand that under the rules of a charter school no teacher can be required to work in a private school.”

    Private school?

  4. David,

    Thanks for the information in your report. I didn’t realize that the district would have to give classroom space to a charter school. That, to my mind, makes a big difference, as the Valley Oak families would naturally want the charter school to be at the Valley Oak site. Conveniently, that space will be available come the 2008-09 school year.

    I recall that Davis Demographics and Planning found that there are 220 children (this year) in the Valley Oak attendance area. I would guess that some of these 220 might be a bit closer to Birch Lane or another elementary, while some not in that number might be closer to Valley Oak. So if you figure 220 is a good ballpark number, the charter school will only have to attract 4 of every 11 kids to get off the ground. That doesn’t seem to difficult to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they could get 8 in 11. They would need 7 in 11 to have 20 kids in each K-6 class.

    While I personally have no idea what the bulk of families of Valley Oak kids would want out of a charter school there — they ought to survey the families as thoroughly as possible to find out — I would guess that beyond offering ordinary K-6 classrooms, they might attract more kids to the charter if they offered a Spanish immersion class (offering a closer alternative to Cesar Chavez for some kids) and maybe some other magnet classroom that is not otherwise offered in Davis schools.

    “It is important to understand that under the rules of a charter school no teacher can be required to work in a private school.”

    Private school?

  5. There’s no guarantee that they’d get the VO spot, btw. That’s not to say they won’t get it if the charter is approved, but if there’s only 50-100 district resident pupils, the district has lots of options. The law doesn’t say they have to get facilities apart from other district schools, for example.

    This may sound counterintuitive, but my suspicion is that a charter won’t work if it is geared toward EL kids, since those families are often not familiar with the choice options before them. It tends to be higher SES families to utilize choice programs.

  6. There’s no guarantee that they’d get the VO spot, btw. That’s not to say they won’t get it if the charter is approved, but if there’s only 50-100 district resident pupils, the district has lots of options. The law doesn’t say they have to get facilities apart from other district schools, for example.

    This may sound counterintuitive, but my suspicion is that a charter won’t work if it is geared toward EL kids, since those families are often not familiar with the choice options before them. It tends to be higher SES families to utilize choice programs.

  7. There’s no guarantee that they’d get the VO spot, btw. That’s not to say they won’t get it if the charter is approved, but if there’s only 50-100 district resident pupils, the district has lots of options. The law doesn’t say they have to get facilities apart from other district schools, for example.

    This may sound counterintuitive, but my suspicion is that a charter won’t work if it is geared toward EL kids, since those families are often not familiar with the choice options before them. It tends to be higher SES families to utilize choice programs.

  8. There’s no guarantee that they’d get the VO spot, btw. That’s not to say they won’t get it if the charter is approved, but if there’s only 50-100 district resident pupils, the district has lots of options. The law doesn’t say they have to get facilities apart from other district schools, for example.

    This may sound counterintuitive, but my suspicion is that a charter won’t work if it is geared toward EL kids, since those families are often not familiar with the choice options before them. It tends to be higher SES families to utilize choice programs.

  9. As policy, procedure and law relating to charters and chartering can be arcane at times, I would like to be clear on a few things.

    CTA has had a policy position on charter schools for some time (beginning in 1993).

    CTA believes charter schools have a role in California’s education system by providing students, parents and CTA members with educational opportunities in the public school setting. (Charter schools are by definition public, not private, schools.)

    Working at or attending a public charter school is voluntary. Any school age resident of California may attend any charter school. Preferences for in-district students, or siblings of students at a charter school may be allowed. If there are more applicants than there are seats at the school, names shall be selected by lottery.

    Who works at a charter school, and the rights of current district employees to transfer to or from a charter school are details to be worked out in drafting the charter and may be the subject of negotiations between the district and affected union(s).

    A charter petition must be accompanied by the signatures of teachers who state they are ‘meaningfully interested’ in teaching at the school equal to one half of the projected number of teachers in the school’s first year OR the signatures of parents who state they are ‘meaningfully interested’ in having their children attend the school equal to one half the number of students projected in the school’s first year.

    The Charter Schools Act of 1992 lists five specific bases for denial of a charter petition. The school district must make findings of fact relating to one or more of these if it turns down a petition. The petitioners have the right to appeal to the County Office of Education and, if necessary, to the State Board of Education.

    As to the current interim Superintendent, it would be accurate to say that as a former Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction responsible for, among other things, overseeing the Charter Schools Division of the California Department of Education, he is well informed regarding the law and the operations of charter schools. All we can ask is that the District view any petition that may come forward with an open mind and judge it on its merits.

    The California Education Code outlines the issues relating to public school facilities, charter schools and school districts at E.C. 47614. The California Code of Regulations governing this can be found at CCR 11969.1-11969.9. Happy reading!!

    Finally, as a matter of policy CTA also believes that all stakeholders must be actively involved, directly or through elected representatives, in the creation and implementation of the charter.

    I look forward to working with the Davis Teachers Association, teachers, parents and members of the Valley Oak community in exploring the creation of a school that will serve the needs of the neighborhood as well as establishing an educational program and governance model of which all of Davis can be proud.

    Materials related to the exploration of creating a charter school at Valley Oak are available at http://vocharter.org

  10. As policy, procedure and law relating to charters and chartering can be arcane at times, I would like to be clear on a few things.

    CTA has had a policy position on charter schools for some time (beginning in 1993).

    CTA believes charter schools have a role in California’s education system by providing students, parents and CTA members with educational opportunities in the public school setting. (Charter schools are by definition public, not private, schools.)

    Working at or attending a public charter school is voluntary. Any school age resident of California may attend any charter school. Preferences for in-district students, or siblings of students at a charter school may be allowed. If there are more applicants than there are seats at the school, names shall be selected by lottery.

    Who works at a charter school, and the rights of current district employees to transfer to or from a charter school are details to be worked out in drafting the charter and may be the subject of negotiations between the district and affected union(s).

    A charter petition must be accompanied by the signatures of teachers who state they are ‘meaningfully interested’ in teaching at the school equal to one half of the projected number of teachers in the school’s first year OR the signatures of parents who state they are ‘meaningfully interested’ in having their children attend the school equal to one half the number of students projected in the school’s first year.

    The Charter Schools Act of 1992 lists five specific bases for denial of a charter petition. The school district must make findings of fact relating to one or more of these if it turns down a petition. The petitioners have the right to appeal to the County Office of Education and, if necessary, to the State Board of Education.

    As to the current interim Superintendent, it would be accurate to say that as a former Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction responsible for, among other things, overseeing the Charter Schools Division of the California Department of Education, he is well informed regarding the law and the operations of charter schools. All we can ask is that the District view any petition that may come forward with an open mind and judge it on its merits.

    The California Education Code outlines the issues relating to public school facilities, charter schools and school districts at E.C. 47614. The California Code of Regulations governing this can be found at CCR 11969.1-11969.9. Happy reading!!

    Finally, as a matter of policy CTA also believes that all stakeholders must be actively involved, directly or through elected representatives, in the creation and implementation of the charter.

    I look forward to working with the Davis Teachers Association, teachers, parents and members of the Valley Oak community in exploring the creation of a school that will serve the needs of the neighborhood as well as establishing an educational program and governance model of which all of Davis can be proud.

    Materials related to the exploration of creating a charter school at Valley Oak are available at http://vocharter.org

  11. As policy, procedure and law relating to charters and chartering can be arcane at times, I would like to be clear on a few things.

    CTA has had a policy position on charter schools for some time (beginning in 1993).

    CTA believes charter schools have a role in California’s education system by providing students, parents and CTA members with educational opportunities in the public school setting. (Charter schools are by definition public, not private, schools.)

    Working at or attending a public charter school is voluntary. Any school age resident of California may attend any charter school. Preferences for in-district students, or siblings of students at a charter school may be allowed. If there are more applicants than there are seats at the school, names shall be selected by lottery.

    Who works at a charter school, and the rights of current district employees to transfer to or from a charter school are details to be worked out in drafting the charter and may be the subject of negotiations between the district and affected union(s).

    A charter petition must be accompanied by the signatures of teachers who state they are ‘meaningfully interested’ in teaching at the school equal to one half of the projected number of teachers in the school’s first year OR the signatures of parents who state they are ‘meaningfully interested’ in having their children attend the school equal to one half the number of students projected in the school’s first year.

    The Charter Schools Act of 1992 lists five specific bases for denial of a charter petition. The school district must make findings of fact relating to one or more of these if it turns down a petition. The petitioners have the right to appeal to the County Office of Education and, if necessary, to the State Board of Education.

    As to the current interim Superintendent, it would be accurate to say that as a former Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction responsible for, among other things, overseeing the Charter Schools Division of the California Department of Education, he is well informed regarding the law and the operations of charter schools. All we can ask is that the District view any petition that may come forward with an open mind and judge it on its merits.

    The California Education Code outlines the issues relating to public school facilities, charter schools and school districts at E.C. 47614. The California Code of Regulations governing this can be found at CCR 11969.1-11969.9. Happy reading!!

    Finally, as a matter of policy CTA also believes that all stakeholders must be actively involved, directly or through elected representatives, in the creation and implementation of the charter.

    I look forward to working with the Davis Teachers Association, teachers, parents and members of the Valley Oak community in exploring the creation of a school that will serve the needs of the neighborhood as well as establishing an educational program and governance model of which all of Davis can be proud.

    Materials related to the exploration of creating a charter school at Valley Oak are available at http://vocharter.org

  12. As policy, procedure and law relating to charters and chartering can be arcane at times, I would like to be clear on a few things.

    CTA has had a policy position on charter schools for some time (beginning in 1993).

    CTA believes charter schools have a role in California’s education system by providing students, parents and CTA members with educational opportunities in the public school setting. (Charter schools are by definition public, not private, schools.)

    Working at or attending a public charter school is voluntary. Any school age resident of California may attend any charter school. Preferences for in-district students, or siblings of students at a charter school may be allowed. If there are more applicants than there are seats at the school, names shall be selected by lottery.

    Who works at a charter school, and the rights of current district employees to transfer to or from a charter school are details to be worked out in drafting the charter and may be the subject of negotiations between the district and affected union(s).

    A charter petition must be accompanied by the signatures of teachers who state they are ‘meaningfully interested’ in teaching at the school equal to one half of the projected number of teachers in the school’s first year OR the signatures of parents who state they are ‘meaningfully interested’ in having their children attend the school equal to one half the number of students projected in the school’s first year.

    The Charter Schools Act of 1992 lists five specific bases for denial of a charter petition. The school district must make findings of fact relating to one or more of these if it turns down a petition. The petitioners have the right to appeal to the County Office of Education and, if necessary, to the State Board of Education.

    As to the current interim Superintendent, it would be accurate to say that as a former Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction responsible for, among other things, overseeing the Charter Schools Division of the California Department of Education, he is well informed regarding the law and the operations of charter schools. All we can ask is that the District view any petition that may come forward with an open mind and judge it on its merits.

    The California Education Code outlines the issues relating to public school facilities, charter schools and school districts at E.C. 47614. The California Code of Regulations governing this can be found at CCR 11969.1-11969.9. Happy reading!!

    Finally, as a matter of policy CTA also believes that all stakeholders must be actively involved, directly or through elected representatives, in the creation and implementation of the charter.

    I look forward to working with the Davis Teachers Association, teachers, parents and members of the Valley Oak community in exploring the creation of a school that will serve the needs of the neighborhood as well as establishing an educational program and governance model of which all of Davis can be proud.

    Materials related to the exploration of creating a charter school at Valley Oak are available at http://vocharter.org

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