Posted by PAMP member, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2007 at 1:22 pm
You forgot this posting, also:
Let me take a shot at the question re: Charter Schools.
The legislature created charter schools as a method to accomplish the
following items (please note that a charter school does not have to
focus on ALL of these items, but may just be focusing on some of
them)... this information is from the California Educational Code:
1. Improve pupil learning
2. Increase learning for all pupils, with special emphasis on
expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as
academically low achieving.
3. Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods.
4. Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the
opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site.
5. Provide parents and pupils with expanded choice in the types of
educational opportunities that are available within the public school system.
6. Hold the schools established under this part accountable for
meeting measurable pupil outcomes, and provide the schools with a
method to change from rule-based to performance based accountability systems.
7. Provide vigorous competition within the public school system to
stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.
A group that wants to create a charter school must first do an
extensive charter proposal that outlines how they are going to run
the program and a lot of detail about what the educational program
will look like, their governance, etc. Typically, the district where
the charter school would like to reside is presented with the
proposal first. That school board gets to decide whether to accept
the proposal or not. They are supposed to do this based on whether or
not the charter meets the intent listed above and whether the
proposal is valid from an educational, operation, fiscal, etc. standpoint.
Most districts do NOT like charter schools (they are competition
after all) and typically turn them down. The charter group then has
the option to appeal to the Santa Clara County Office of Education,
who may then approve the charter. If they don't, the group can appeal
to the State. The Santa Clara County Office of Education has approved
a number of charter schools in the recent past.
The district where the charter school resides must provide facilities
if the school has 80 or more students from that district. Note that
they are on the hook to provide facilities only for students that
come from that district so if the charter school includes students
from other districts, they are not obligated to provide space for
them. Because of that, in all likelihood, the charter would come with
a preference for PAUSD students (though that's not a requirement).
The district is also on the hook to pass through $ for their students
that attend the charter school. I believe though that it is only the
ADA amount (i.e., the amount that the state gives per pupil in
revenue limit districts... it's a little more than $5K). The charter
school would very likely NOT get parcel tax money and would get far
less per pupil than the other district schools because PAUSD is a
basic aid district where more than $10K per student is available.
This is probably more than everyone wanted to know. For full
disclosure, I am definitely a charter school supporter and do NOT
live in PAUSD. I believe our public educational system is massively
broken and charter schools are a good start at fixing them.
Happy to provide more information to anyone that might want it.
BTW, Los Altos School District is NOT a basic aid district, although they really want to qualify. At this time, the closest basic aid districts to PAUSD are Hillsborough and Saratoga. Sunnyvale was for a while, but flipped back to revenue-limited lately.