Valley Oak Charter Decision To Come on Thursday Night

Thursday evening in Davis figures to be one of the more important nights for two key issues. As we have been discussing, at 7 PM, the General Plan Housing Element Steering Committee will hold a workshop and take community input on the ranking of 37 identified potential sites for future development. At the same time, the school board will meet to likely decide whether or not to approve the Valley Oak Charter School.

The petitioners and the school district agreed last month by mutual consent to continue negotiations and talks aimed toward reconciling concerns that the district has with the drafted charter proposal. Both sides have worked hard and in good faith to move closer toward agreement. However, at this point there are a number of serious obstacles that have developed.

At last week’s school board meeting, a presentation by Chief Business Officer, Bruce Colby, determined that the district is facing a $3.5 to $4.5 million shortfall in their budget for the upcoming year. The problem has to do with a statewide budget crisis and attempts by the governor to bring the budget closer to balance than he had previously. The result is that education which is one of the big line-items is facing a severe cutback in state funding.

The result of this budget crisis, coupled with the fact that the district has been deficit spending for the last three years or so, means that the Davis Joint Unified School District will face tough and painful decisions.

Let us be clear, the district’s budget problems cannot be a reason to deny the charter. And in fact, the estimated cost of keeping Valley Oak open as a charter would only be $300,000 or so in a sea of $4.5 million. Nevertheless, you can be certain that this budget crunch will weigh heavily on the minds of the board members as they examine the viability of the charter overall.

The Education Code specifies five grounds to deny a charter:

(1) the charter school presents an unsound educational program for the students to be enrolled in the charter school; (2) the petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition; (3) the petition does not contain the number of signatures required; (4) the petition does not contain an affirmation of each of the conditions prescribed by law; and/or (5) the petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of the sixteen charter elements in prescribed by law.

While those are the formal reasons for denial, as we saw in December, those are subject to rather subjective interpretations particularly parts (1) and (2) can be rather broadly construed. As we saw with the resolution put forth by district staff, these can be nitpicked and interpreted rather broadly.

On the side of the petitioners has been the fact that the district has worked very closely with the petitioners to shore up some if not most of these concerns. At this point, the district has not released any support materials for this item. We will check for any updates through out the day.

In December, a strongly worded resolution was drafted against the charter petition. While the staff report gave the board the option of supporting the resolution, opposing the resolution, or taking no action, the implications for such as strongly worded resolution were clear.

The board apparently was uncomfortable with the strident language in the resolution and the newly hired Superintendent James Hammond emerged with a means to a good faith effort to reconcile the differences of the board with the language of the charter proposal.

As a result, a potential showdown was averted at this time and according to our sources there have been strong and good faith efforts to reconcile the concerns of the district.

Further complicating the process is the fact that there are now two new board members. Gone is board member Jim Provenza who was one of the strongest supporters of keeping Valley Oak open. Gone too is board member Keltie Jones, one of the strongest supporters of closing Valley Oak. In their place are new members Susan Lovenburg and Richard Harris. Mr. Harris was outspoken during his campaign in opposition to the charter itself. While Board Member Lovenberg strongly favored closing Valley Oak and following the recommendations of the Best Uses of Schools Task Force, it is less certain how she might view the charter proposal. The new board members do not necessarily doom the charter proposal, especially given the laws surrounding charter proposals, but they do add uncertainty.

If the board votes to reject this proposal, it would be appealed first to the County Board of Education and then the State. The feeling is that the county especially given the budget situation would probably uphold the rejection but the state has been known to overturn such rulings by local boards. Nevertheless, the rejection would drag this process out for a considerable amount of time and place the children who would attend Valley Oak into a quandary that would leave their lives and schooling at the very least disruptive.

At this point, I have serious concerns about whether this charter will get approved by the school district. Much will depend on the work that has occurred within the last month to shore up the proposal. A good deal of hard work, sweat, and anguish has gone into this charter proposal and it would be a shame to see it rejected at the last moment for reasons outside of the control of the petitioners.

The hearing is slated for 8:05 PM at the Community Chambers on Russell Blvd. It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in the position of having two key events occurring concurrently. For those involved the Valley Oak Charter is a hugely important decision that deserves the full attention and support from this community. I am hopeful that the district will be able to do the right thing for this community and the children of Valley Oak.

—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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Budget/Taxes

36 comments

  1. Valley Oak was slated to close because of financial mismanagement by the school district. (I don’t buy the nonsense about declining enrollment for one second – that theory can be debunked quite easily (don’t want to steal DPD’s thunder on this one).) The current budget crisis could have been weathered better, had the school district been more fiscally responsible. It is not appropriate to punish the Valley Oak Charter School proponents because the school district had unclean hands coming into this discussion.

    The best thing this city can do for its children is to wrest control of its schools from the school district, and put it in the hands of parents and teachers. I encourage the Valley Oak Charter proponents to stick to their guns, and fight for their charter school. I would suspect the parents/teachers will be a good deal more fiscally responsible than the school district has ever been.

  2. Valley Oak was slated to close because of financial mismanagement by the school district. (I don’t buy the nonsense about declining enrollment for one second – that theory can be debunked quite easily (don’t want to steal DPD’s thunder on this one).) The current budget crisis could have been weathered better, had the school district been more fiscally responsible. It is not appropriate to punish the Valley Oak Charter School proponents because the school district had unclean hands coming into this discussion.

    The best thing this city can do for its children is to wrest control of its schools from the school district, and put it in the hands of parents and teachers. I encourage the Valley Oak Charter proponents to stick to their guns, and fight for their charter school. I would suspect the parents/teachers will be a good deal more fiscally responsible than the school district has ever been.

  3. Valley Oak was slated to close because of financial mismanagement by the school district. (I don’t buy the nonsense about declining enrollment for one second – that theory can be debunked quite easily (don’t want to steal DPD’s thunder on this one).) The current budget crisis could have been weathered better, had the school district been more fiscally responsible. It is not appropriate to punish the Valley Oak Charter School proponents because the school district had unclean hands coming into this discussion.

    The best thing this city can do for its children is to wrest control of its schools from the school district, and put it in the hands of parents and teachers. I encourage the Valley Oak Charter proponents to stick to their guns, and fight for their charter school. I would suspect the parents/teachers will be a good deal more fiscally responsible than the school district has ever been.

  4. Valley Oak was slated to close because of financial mismanagement by the school district. (I don’t buy the nonsense about declining enrollment for one second – that theory can be debunked quite easily (don’t want to steal DPD’s thunder on this one).) The current budget crisis could have been weathered better, had the school district been more fiscally responsible. It is not appropriate to punish the Valley Oak Charter School proponents because the school district had unclean hands coming into this discussion.

    The best thing this city can do for its children is to wrest control of its schools from the school district, and put it in the hands of parents and teachers. I encourage the Valley Oak Charter proponents to stick to their guns, and fight for their charter school. I would suspect the parents/teachers will be a good deal more fiscally responsible than the school district has ever been.

  5. DPD

    I have no doubt the school board will deny the charter. They haven’t done the right thing for VO or all of the children of Davis yet. Why destroy a working 50 year old teaching community and force its programs and children on other district schools who clearly don’t want them? The smart choice would have been to close Korematsu. It is not too late. From what I here, parents are pulling their children out of Korematsu anyway. Think of all the growing pains that Korematsu has had and will continue to experience that could have been avoided by keeping an established school open.

  6. DPD

    I have no doubt the school board will deny the charter. They haven’t done the right thing for VO or all of the children of Davis yet. Why destroy a working 50 year old teaching community and force its programs and children on other district schools who clearly don’t want them? The smart choice would have been to close Korematsu. It is not too late. From what I here, parents are pulling their children out of Korematsu anyway. Think of all the growing pains that Korematsu has had and will continue to experience that could have been avoided by keeping an established school open.

  7. DPD

    I have no doubt the school board will deny the charter. They haven’t done the right thing for VO or all of the children of Davis yet. Why destroy a working 50 year old teaching community and force its programs and children on other district schools who clearly don’t want them? The smart choice would have been to close Korematsu. It is not too late. From what I here, parents are pulling their children out of Korematsu anyway. Think of all the growing pains that Korematsu has had and will continue to experience that could have been avoided by keeping an established school open.

  8. DPD

    I have no doubt the school board will deny the charter. They haven’t done the right thing for VO or all of the children of Davis yet. Why destroy a working 50 year old teaching community and force its programs and children on other district schools who clearly don’t want them? The smart choice would have been to close Korematsu. It is not too late. From what I here, parents are pulling their children out of Korematsu anyway. Think of all the growing pains that Korematsu has had and will continue to experience that could have been avoided by keeping an established school open.

  9. We’ll talk a bit more about Korematsu in a few weeks, I think some in the community are due for an eye-opener about how that all came to pass.

    One point I think that Fed Up raises is that the district had a healthy reserve but deficit spent for the last two or three years eating into that reserve. The reserve according to my discussion yesterday with the Budget Director was down to $1 million which means that we’re going to have to eat almost all of this budget cut out of the operating budget.

  10. We’ll talk a bit more about Korematsu in a few weeks, I think some in the community are due for an eye-opener about how that all came to pass.

    One point I think that Fed Up raises is that the district had a healthy reserve but deficit spent for the last two or three years eating into that reserve. The reserve according to my discussion yesterday with the Budget Director was down to $1 million which means that we’re going to have to eat almost all of this budget cut out of the operating budget.

  11. We’ll talk a bit more about Korematsu in a few weeks, I think some in the community are due for an eye-opener about how that all came to pass.

    One point I think that Fed Up raises is that the district had a healthy reserve but deficit spent for the last two or three years eating into that reserve. The reserve according to my discussion yesterday with the Budget Director was down to $1 million which means that we’re going to have to eat almost all of this budget cut out of the operating budget.

  12. We’ll talk a bit more about Korematsu in a few weeks, I think some in the community are due for an eye-opener about how that all came to pass.

    One point I think that Fed Up raises is that the district had a healthy reserve but deficit spent for the last two or three years eating into that reserve. The reserve according to my discussion yesterday with the Budget Director was down to $1 million which means that we’re going to have to eat almost all of this budget cut out of the operating budget.

  13. Arnold’s threat to cut deeply into education in the upcoming budget is pure political theater. The Democratic legislature will not go along with the Governator’s political posturing and will reject his cuts.. this will be fine with him(no veto)and he will have done his political “dance” for his Republican base. The Valley Oak proponents will need to move immediately to appeal.
    DPD… your Commentary “drips” with pessimism.. something that NO Valley Oak Charter School supporter needs at this point.

  14. Arnold’s threat to cut deeply into education in the upcoming budget is pure political theater. The Democratic legislature will not go along with the Governator’s political posturing and will reject his cuts.. this will be fine with him(no veto)and he will have done his political “dance” for his Republican base. The Valley Oak proponents will need to move immediately to appeal.
    DPD… your Commentary “drips” with pessimism.. something that NO Valley Oak Charter School supporter needs at this point.

  15. Arnold’s threat to cut deeply into education in the upcoming budget is pure political theater. The Democratic legislature will not go along with the Governator’s political posturing and will reject his cuts.. this will be fine with him(no veto)and he will have done his political “dance” for his Republican base. The Valley Oak proponents will need to move immediately to appeal.
    DPD… your Commentary “drips” with pessimism.. something that NO Valley Oak Charter School supporter needs at this point.

  16. Arnold’s threat to cut deeply into education in the upcoming budget is pure political theater. The Democratic legislature will not go along with the Governator’s political posturing and will reject his cuts.. this will be fine with him(no veto)and he will have done his political “dance” for his Republican base. The Valley Oak proponents will need to move immediately to appeal.
    DPD… your Commentary “drips” with pessimism.. something that NO Valley Oak Charter School supporter needs at this point.

  17. “As a result, a potential showdown was averted at this time and according to our sources there have been strong and good faith efforts to reconcile the concerns of the district.”

    What the heck does THAT mean? Have Hammond and his staff resolved the substanitive issues that determine LEGALLY whether the charter can be rejected? If so, will Hammond recommend to the Board that they follow the LAW? If not, he’s is deep sh..t and better start packing his bags.

  18. “As a result, a potential showdown was averted at this time and according to our sources there have been strong and good faith efforts to reconcile the concerns of the district.”

    What the heck does THAT mean? Have Hammond and his staff resolved the substanitive issues that determine LEGALLY whether the charter can be rejected? If so, will Hammond recommend to the Board that they follow the LAW? If not, he’s is deep sh..t and better start packing his bags.

  19. “As a result, a potential showdown was averted at this time and according to our sources there have been strong and good faith efforts to reconcile the concerns of the district.”

    What the heck does THAT mean? Have Hammond and his staff resolved the substanitive issues that determine LEGALLY whether the charter can be rejected? If so, will Hammond recommend to the Board that they follow the LAW? If not, he’s is deep sh..t and better start packing his bags.

  20. “As a result, a potential showdown was averted at this time and according to our sources there have been strong and good faith efforts to reconcile the concerns of the district.”

    What the heck does THAT mean? Have Hammond and his staff resolved the substanitive issues that determine LEGALLY whether the charter can be rejected? If so, will Hammond recommend to the Board that they follow the LAW? If not, he’s is deep sh..t and better start packing his bags.

  21. “DPD… your Commentary “drips” with pessimism.. something that NO Valley Oak Charter School supporter needs at this point.”

    I’m sorry that that’s the case, I felt the need to be honest. I have since heard some better news, so hopefully all will go well. I just hope the families who have been through so much already go down to the board meeting and fight for their school.

  22. “DPD… your Commentary “drips” with pessimism.. something that NO Valley Oak Charter School supporter needs at this point.”

    I’m sorry that that’s the case, I felt the need to be honest. I have since heard some better news, so hopefully all will go well. I just hope the families who have been through so much already go down to the board meeting and fight for their school.

  23. “DPD… your Commentary “drips” with pessimism.. something that NO Valley Oak Charter School supporter needs at this point.”

    I’m sorry that that’s the case, I felt the need to be honest. I have since heard some better news, so hopefully all will go well. I just hope the families who have been through so much already go down to the board meeting and fight for their school.

  24. “DPD… your Commentary “drips” with pessimism.. something that NO Valley Oak Charter School supporter needs at this point.”

    I’m sorry that that’s the case, I felt the need to be honest. I have since heard some better news, so hopefully all will go well. I just hope the families who have been through so much already go down to the board meeting and fight for their school.

  25. “What the heck does THAT mean? Have Hammond and his staff resolved the substanitive issues that determine LEGALLY whether the charter can be rejected? If so, will Hammond recommend to the Board that they follow the LAW?”

    It means that there is supposedly some type of agreement that has been reached and if that is the case, the board will have little choice but to ratify the charter.

  26. “What the heck does THAT mean? Have Hammond and his staff resolved the substanitive issues that determine LEGALLY whether the charter can be rejected? If so, will Hammond recommend to the Board that they follow the LAW?”

    It means that there is supposedly some type of agreement that has been reached and if that is the case, the board will have little choice but to ratify the charter.

  27. “What the heck does THAT mean? Have Hammond and his staff resolved the substanitive issues that determine LEGALLY whether the charter can be rejected? If so, will Hammond recommend to the Board that they follow the LAW?”

    It means that there is supposedly some type of agreement that has been reached and if that is the case, the board will have little choice but to ratify the charter.

  28. “What the heck does THAT mean? Have Hammond and his staff resolved the substanitive issues that determine LEGALLY whether the charter can be rejected? If so, will Hammond recommend to the Board that they follow the LAW?”

    It means that there is supposedly some type of agreement that has been reached and if that is the case, the board will have little choice but to ratify the charter.

  29. Great news! On-line Davis Enterprise article says that Hammond will recommend approval of the charter with specific “benchmarks” to be reached in the first year. It is highly unlikely that the Board nay-sayers would now just throw out its Superintendent’s and staff work from their imperial dais after they approved the efforts to reach an accommodation.

  30. Great news! On-line Davis Enterprise article says that Hammond will recommend approval of the charter with specific “benchmarks” to be reached in the first year. It is highly unlikely that the Board nay-sayers would now just throw out its Superintendent’s and staff work from their imperial dais after they approved the efforts to reach an accommodation.

  31. Great news! On-line Davis Enterprise article says that Hammond will recommend approval of the charter with specific “benchmarks” to be reached in the first year. It is highly unlikely that the Board nay-sayers would now just throw out its Superintendent’s and staff work from their imperial dais after they approved the efforts to reach an accommodation.

  32. Great news! On-line Davis Enterprise article says that Hammond will recommend approval of the charter with specific “benchmarks” to be reached in the first year. It is highly unlikely that the Board nay-sayers would now just throw out its Superintendent’s and staff work from their imperial dais after they approved the efforts to reach an accommodation.

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