Valley Oak Charter School Meeting

Last night around 60 people including parents of Valley Oak Students, current students, former students, community leaders, candidates for school board, current school board members, and people from around the community gathered at the Valley Oak Multipurpose room to view an update and presentation on the Valley Oak Charter School.
Three of the four school board candidates were in attendance: Bob Schelen, Joe Spector, and Susan Lovenburg. Three of the school board members were there Jim Provenza, Gina Daleiden and Tim Taylor showed up around 8:00 PM.

But this evening was mostly about Valley Oak and five dedicated teachers who spoke about the offerings and the progress: Steve Kelleher, Bill Storm, Jan Coker, Allan Carlson, and Lisa Arvin.

The Valley Oak Mission statement:

“Valley Oak Charter School is a learning community of students, staff, families and the larger community that challenges each member to reach full potential. We draw upon a rich history as a neighborhood school that recognizes the strengths of a diverse population, welcoming all into a culturally-rich environment with high expectations for all students. We believe community-based cooperative governance makes for optimally responsive and innovative education.”

They presented four key focal points:

  • “Coordinated school-wide schedule of flexible small-group instruction to address individual needs.
  • Participation of the greater school community in pursuing the educational mission of the school.
  • Integration of arts, technology and community service tools into all aspects of learning
  • Bridge the digital divide through utilization of educational technology by the larger VOCS community, both on campus and at home.”
Lisa Arvin spoke about the EL learners program that she has been involved with for quite some time and described how it has enabled the students to learn English and not only that but become interested in learning and school to the point where she showed us concrete examples of how this program has enabled students to have great ambitions for success later in life.

The EL program at Valley Oak has been touted as among the best in the district. Ms. Arvin presented ELA results—greater percentage of EL students at Valley Oak achieved proficient scores and were reclassified as English fluent than any other school in the district or district wide.


Valley Oak plans to continue this program as a charter school.

Steve Kelleher described in some detail the organizational structure of the charter school.



First there will be an executive board composed of community members, teachers, board, DTA designee, and cooperative community. This will oversee the corporate and school operations. The charter will be in the form of a 501(3)C–a not for profit corporation.

Second there will be a teacher cooperative which is composed of the Valley Oak Faculty and they make the site level decisions.

Finally there will be a site director who will be chosen by the executive board and teacher cooperative. The site director sounds like the Principal in this structure.

One of the elements of the charter school, as Bill Storm described in our interview yesterday is this will be a technology magnet school.

He presented four goals:

• Connection to Larger Community

• Learning through technology

• School-to-home communication link

• Family technology

The basic idea here is that technology will help serve as a link to the larger community. The students will utlize this technology as a means to learn not only about the technology but about their other subjects. This will enable the family to have a greater connection and thus better communication with the school and they even hope, since Valley Oak is still primarily Title 1 students to work with corporate parterners to bring connectivity to every family.

There are challenges that lie ahead. At this point, the Charter is pretty much written. But now they need people to sign up. They have budgeted for about a max of 420 students, but the school has held over 600. However, they will need at least 200 to enroll for this to be viable.

The goal is that people in the Valley Oak area get priority for enrollment, but students from outside the area and outside of Davis itself are strongly encouraged to apply. You can get a sign up form at http://vocharter.org.


Commentary:

One thing that occurred to me during the course of the program and ensuing discussion was the general feeling by many that in fact, Valley Oak was singled out by the Task Force because it seemed to be primarily an easy mark. They believe that these parents would not fight back like North Davis parents would have or Korematsu parents would have. This calculation was wrong.

If this charter school succeeds, the efforts of the Task Force could either be lost or at the very least misplaced. Throughout the discussions, the debate as it were, quickly focused on closing a school, rather than creative ways to keep all of the schools open. What was lost in that process, and never fully considered, was the option for the kind of magnet school that the folks at Valley Oak are looking to create with the Valley Oak Charter School.

In fact, I would argue that there really three strong lures to Valley Oak.

First, the Magnet School on Technology. It has been my basic observation that technology has increased and improved faster than our understanding of how best to utilize it.

Second, the EL Program. I think this point needs to be sold harder, you have regionally a large non-English speaking population, if you can promote the success of this program regionally, it may be possible to draw kids for this purpose from across the region.

Third, and I think actually most importantly, the combination of the Title 1 and the technology. We talk about achievement gap, but there is also a technology gap between wealthy students who have the computers at home and grow up using them, and some of the other kids who are never exposed to new technology and this will enable them to compete on more even footing.

As I said, during the course of the debate on Valley Oak, the Task Force fumbled the ball on the consideration of increasing enrollment through the creation of a magnet school. I know the folks who were fighting to keep Valley Oak open, presented the idea and it seemed to be summarily dismissed.

All of this effort on the part of the Valley Oak parents is great, but I cannot help believing that the folks at the Task Force imposed this on people who should be focusing on other things and that is too bad. In the end, the Task Force will not get their school closed and all of the budget concerns will remain OR the Magnet School may help solve that problem and the Task Force never seriously considered it. In any case, I do not believe the Task Force found the best uses of schools in this district, I believe they found the easiest solution to a difficult problem and rammed it through.


—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.

Categories:

Budget/Taxes

68 comments

  1. The individual who “organized” the effort said it best; to paraphrase, that this is about people standing up and DOING rather than being DONE TO. In addition to cultural diversity, educational excellence and technology focus of the charter school,the atmosphere of optimism, courage and the belief that they CAN shape their school’s future is palpable. This atmosphere,in which the children will be immersed is, as the MasterCard commercial says, “priceless” and every Davis parent should take a serious look at the VO Magnet School for their child.

  2. The individual who “organized” the effort said it best; to paraphrase, that this is about people standing up and DOING rather than being DONE TO. In addition to cultural diversity, educational excellence and technology focus of the charter school,the atmosphere of optimism, courage and the belief that they CAN shape their school’s future is palpable. This atmosphere,in which the children will be immersed is, as the MasterCard commercial says, “priceless” and every Davis parent should take a serious look at the VO Magnet School for their child.

  3. The individual who “organized” the effort said it best; to paraphrase, that this is about people standing up and DOING rather than being DONE TO. In addition to cultural diversity, educational excellence and technology focus of the charter school,the atmosphere of optimism, courage and the belief that they CAN shape their school’s future is palpable. This atmosphere,in which the children will be immersed is, as the MasterCard commercial says, “priceless” and every Davis parent should take a serious look at the VO Magnet School for their child.

  4. The individual who “organized” the effort said it best; to paraphrase, that this is about people standing up and DOING rather than being DONE TO. In addition to cultural diversity, educational excellence and technology focus of the charter school,the atmosphere of optimism, courage and the belief that they CAN shape their school’s future is palpable. This atmosphere,in which the children will be immersed is, as the MasterCard commercial says, “priceless” and every Davis parent should take a serious look at the VO Magnet School for their child.

  5. I am hesitant at the value of being a “high tech” school, especially for an elementary school. The school to home communication link would only work if parents had computers and internet connections and knew how to set them up to connect to the school. DaVinci High touted this but had serious problems in the first year. The school uses the school district’s server and the system is down often, especially over holidays and weekends when most parents would have time to “check in” and maybe help them catch up with their homework, etc. Parents might be wow’ed by the computers, etc. but it is not all that great and should not replace true human to human contact. There is an assumption that connection is being made when there is not.

  6. I am hesitant at the value of being a “high tech” school, especially for an elementary school. The school to home communication link would only work if parents had computers and internet connections and knew how to set them up to connect to the school. DaVinci High touted this but had serious problems in the first year. The school uses the school district’s server and the system is down often, especially over holidays and weekends when most parents would have time to “check in” and maybe help them catch up with their homework, etc. Parents might be wow’ed by the computers, etc. but it is not all that great and should not replace true human to human contact. There is an assumption that connection is being made when there is not.

  7. I am hesitant at the value of being a “high tech” school, especially for an elementary school. The school to home communication link would only work if parents had computers and internet connections and knew how to set them up to connect to the school. DaVinci High touted this but had serious problems in the first year. The school uses the school district’s server and the system is down often, especially over holidays and weekends when most parents would have time to “check in” and maybe help them catch up with their homework, etc. Parents might be wow’ed by the computers, etc. but it is not all that great and should not replace true human to human contact. There is an assumption that connection is being made when there is not.

  8. I am hesitant at the value of being a “high tech” school, especially for an elementary school. The school to home communication link would only work if parents had computers and internet connections and knew how to set them up to connect to the school. DaVinci High touted this but had serious problems in the first year. The school uses the school district’s server and the system is down often, especially over holidays and weekends when most parents would have time to “check in” and maybe help them catch up with their homework, etc. Parents might be wow’ed by the computers, etc. but it is not all that great and should not replace true human to human contact. There is an assumption that connection is being made when there is not.

  9. Congrats to the VO parents, teachers, and community members who are leading this effort! There’s still a long way to go, but the charter school ideas put forward so far deserve serious consideration by candidates, incumbents, and district staff.

    Val Dolcini

  10. Congrats to the VO parents, teachers, and community members who are leading this effort! There’s still a long way to go, but the charter school ideas put forward so far deserve serious consideration by candidates, incumbents, and district staff.

    Val Dolcini

  11. Congrats to the VO parents, teachers, and community members who are leading this effort! There’s still a long way to go, but the charter school ideas put forward so far deserve serious consideration by candidates, incumbents, and district staff.

    Val Dolcini

  12. Congrats to the VO parents, teachers, and community members who are leading this effort! There’s still a long way to go, but the charter school ideas put forward so far deserve serious consideration by candidates, incumbents, and district staff.

    Val Dolcini

  13. I am following with great interest the efforts to create the Valley Oak Charter School. Thanks to the PVD for the excellent coverage. The process has been methodical and professional. Congratulations to the home team and thanks to CTA for playing such a supportive role. I look forward to VOCS being a voice for strong education alternatives. As a cooperative run school I look forward to them joining the other 40 cooperatives that serve the people of Davis and Yolo County. I am sure other local co-ops will be willing to lend a hand to this fine effort. I certainly will.

  14. I am following with great interest the efforts to create the Valley Oak Charter School. Thanks to the PVD for the excellent coverage. The process has been methodical and professional. Congratulations to the home team and thanks to CTA for playing such a supportive role. I look forward to VOCS being a voice for strong education alternatives. As a cooperative run school I look forward to them joining the other 40 cooperatives that serve the people of Davis and Yolo County. I am sure other local co-ops will be willing to lend a hand to this fine effort. I certainly will.

  15. I am following with great interest the efforts to create the Valley Oak Charter School. Thanks to the PVD for the excellent coverage. The process has been methodical and professional. Congratulations to the home team and thanks to CTA for playing such a supportive role. I look forward to VOCS being a voice for strong education alternatives. As a cooperative run school I look forward to them joining the other 40 cooperatives that serve the people of Davis and Yolo County. I am sure other local co-ops will be willing to lend a hand to this fine effort. I certainly will.

  16. I am following with great interest the efforts to create the Valley Oak Charter School. Thanks to the PVD for the excellent coverage. The process has been methodical and professional. Congratulations to the home team and thanks to CTA for playing such a supportive role. I look forward to VOCS being a voice for strong education alternatives. As a cooperative run school I look forward to them joining the other 40 cooperatives that serve the people of Davis and Yolo County. I am sure other local co-ops will be willing to lend a hand to this fine effort. I certainly will.

  17. “The school uses the school district’s server and the system is down often…”
    This school wouldn’t have to use the district’s server. And I’m guessing problems could be solved much more quickly due to the limited bureaucracy. I think a charter school has many advantages in providing a tech component than a regular school.

  18. “The school uses the school district’s server and the system is down often…”
    This school wouldn’t have to use the district’s server. And I’m guessing problems could be solved much more quickly due to the limited bureaucracy. I think a charter school has many advantages in providing a tech component than a regular school.

  19. “The school uses the school district’s server and the system is down often…”
    This school wouldn’t have to use the district’s server. And I’m guessing problems could be solved much more quickly due to the limited bureaucracy. I think a charter school has many advantages in providing a tech component than a regular school.

  20. “The school uses the school district’s server and the system is down often…”
    This school wouldn’t have to use the district’s server. And I’m guessing problems could be solved much more quickly due to the limited bureaucracy. I think a charter school has many advantages in providing a tech component than a regular school.

  21. I certainly don’t want to put a lid on the excitement around VOCS; however, I was disappointed by the community meeting. In true Davis fashion, I was expecting more than cheerleading and the 10,000 foot overview. My expectation was that this meeting would be the unveiling of the Valley Oak Charter School Document and how VOCS was going to be made a viable educational option in Davis.

    The organizers have given a tremendous amount of effort to this project, and should be commended. At the same time, Valley Oak is not being closed because there aren’t wonderful teachers and a great program. It’s money. We can argue until the cows come home about the process used to single out Valley Oak, but in many people’s minds it’s still about money.

    I have friends with childeren who have attended any number of charter schools in Nevada County. Most of those charter schools closed within 2-4 years either because they couldn’t maintain an adequate revenue stream, the staff got tired of working for nothing, or parents and staff fell over from the exhaustion of trying to make it work. Of course, there are other notable exceptions, some of which are referenced at http://vocharter.org/reference_documents.html. I’m still waiting to see how VOCS is *really* going to work.

  22. I certainly don’t want to put a lid on the excitement around VOCS; however, I was disappointed by the community meeting. In true Davis fashion, I was expecting more than cheerleading and the 10,000 foot overview. My expectation was that this meeting would be the unveiling of the Valley Oak Charter School Document and how VOCS was going to be made a viable educational option in Davis.

    The organizers have given a tremendous amount of effort to this project, and should be commended. At the same time, Valley Oak is not being closed because there aren’t wonderful teachers and a great program. It’s money. We can argue until the cows come home about the process used to single out Valley Oak, but in many people’s minds it’s still about money.

    I have friends with childeren who have attended any number of charter schools in Nevada County. Most of those charter schools closed within 2-4 years either because they couldn’t maintain an adequate revenue stream, the staff got tired of working for nothing, or parents and staff fell over from the exhaustion of trying to make it work. Of course, there are other notable exceptions, some of which are referenced at http://vocharter.org/reference_documents.html. I’m still waiting to see how VOCS is *really* going to work.

  23. I certainly don’t want to put a lid on the excitement around VOCS; however, I was disappointed by the community meeting. In true Davis fashion, I was expecting more than cheerleading and the 10,000 foot overview. My expectation was that this meeting would be the unveiling of the Valley Oak Charter School Document and how VOCS was going to be made a viable educational option in Davis.

    The organizers have given a tremendous amount of effort to this project, and should be commended. At the same time, Valley Oak is not being closed because there aren’t wonderful teachers and a great program. It’s money. We can argue until the cows come home about the process used to single out Valley Oak, but in many people’s minds it’s still about money.

    I have friends with childeren who have attended any number of charter schools in Nevada County. Most of those charter schools closed within 2-4 years either because they couldn’t maintain an adequate revenue stream, the staff got tired of working for nothing, or parents and staff fell over from the exhaustion of trying to make it work. Of course, there are other notable exceptions, some of which are referenced at http://vocharter.org/reference_documents.html. I’m still waiting to see how VOCS is *really* going to work.

  24. I certainly don’t want to put a lid on the excitement around VOCS; however, I was disappointed by the community meeting. In true Davis fashion, I was expecting more than cheerleading and the 10,000 foot overview. My expectation was that this meeting would be the unveiling of the Valley Oak Charter School Document and how VOCS was going to be made a viable educational option in Davis.

    The organizers have given a tremendous amount of effort to this project, and should be commended. At the same time, Valley Oak is not being closed because there aren’t wonderful teachers and a great program. It’s money. We can argue until the cows come home about the process used to single out Valley Oak, but in many people’s minds it’s still about money.

    I have friends with childeren who have attended any number of charter schools in Nevada County. Most of those charter schools closed within 2-4 years either because they couldn’t maintain an adequate revenue stream, the staff got tired of working for nothing, or parents and staff fell over from the exhaustion of trying to make it work. Of course, there are other notable exceptions, some of which are referenced at http://vocharter.org/reference_documents.html. I’m still waiting to see how VOCS is *really* going to work.

  25. The Spanish Immersion program was RUN by the parents for its approximately first 5 years. The parents and their elected Spanish Immersion PTA did everything(even recruited the teachers) as the DJUSD had essentially politically “washed their hands” of this program except for the funding. When the program became acclaimed as something quite special, the District stepped in to take the credit. YES, Davis parents, teachers and volunteers have already demonstrated that they can create and run a truly innovative and viable program.

  26. The Spanish Immersion program was RUN by the parents for its approximately first 5 years. The parents and their elected Spanish Immersion PTA did everything(even recruited the teachers) as the DJUSD had essentially politically “washed their hands” of this program except for the funding. When the program became acclaimed as something quite special, the District stepped in to take the credit. YES, Davis parents, teachers and volunteers have already demonstrated that they can create and run a truly innovative and viable program.

  27. The Spanish Immersion program was RUN by the parents for its approximately first 5 years. The parents and their elected Spanish Immersion PTA did everything(even recruited the teachers) as the DJUSD had essentially politically “washed their hands” of this program except for the funding. When the program became acclaimed as something quite special, the District stepped in to take the credit. YES, Davis parents, teachers and volunteers have already demonstrated that they can create and run a truly innovative and viable program.

  28. The Spanish Immersion program was RUN by the parents for its approximately first 5 years. The parents and their elected Spanish Immersion PTA did everything(even recruited the teachers) as the DJUSD had essentially politically “washed their hands” of this program except for the funding. When the program became acclaimed as something quite special, the District stepped in to take the credit. YES, Davis parents, teachers and volunteers have already demonstrated that they can create and run a truly innovative and viable program.

  29. “The Spanish Immersion program was RUN by the parents for its approximately first 5 years…YES, Davis parents, teachers and volunteers have already demonstrated that they can create and run a truly innovative and viable program.”

    Making a single program work isn’t the same as running an entire school.

  30. “The Spanish Immersion program was RUN by the parents for its approximately first 5 years…YES, Davis parents, teachers and volunteers have already demonstrated that they can create and run a truly innovative and viable program.”

    Making a single program work isn’t the same as running an entire school.

  31. “The Spanish Immersion program was RUN by the parents for its approximately first 5 years…YES, Davis parents, teachers and volunteers have already demonstrated that they can create and run a truly innovative and viable program.”

    Making a single program work isn’t the same as running an entire school.

  32. “The Spanish Immersion program was RUN by the parents for its approximately first 5 years…YES, Davis parents, teachers and volunteers have already demonstrated that they can create and run a truly innovative and viable program.”

    Making a single program work isn’t the same as running an entire school.

  33. “Valley Oak is being closed because of money…”
    Didn’t the district just announce it had an ungodly surplus in the coffers after several years of conservative budgeting?
    “At the same time, Valley Oak is not being closed because there aren’t wonderful teachers and a great program…”
    Valley Oak is being closed despite its wonderful teachers and great programs. Its scores match or better any district elementary.
    Valley Oak was closed in order to house the facilities now found on B. St. so B. St. can be redeveloped into a cash cow for the district.
    I eagerly await the next public outreach meetings and the full charter document to be up on the VOCS web site.