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Charter School at All Costs?

Original post made by Resident of PAUSD, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 5, 2007

I have been following the whole discussion about the potential for a Mandarin Immersion Charter School . I had some sympathy for the proponents of this Charter School, and was willing to support their bid for a Charter School if they did it in a way that didn't hurt our District very much (such as submitting to the county or in a neighboring district.)

However, I lost all sympathetic feelings in the shock of reading the following which was posted to the Palo Alto Menlo Park Mother's Club list.

I am appalled that the leadership of this movement is actually recruiting in NEIGHBORING basic aid districts to try to create demand for this a Charter school in PAUSD. And they’ve written this in such a misleading way as to imply that the charter would somehow be a PAUSD managed school.

I am also appalled that, not only are they trying to overide the will of the community that rejected another immersion program in our District, they are doing so in the way that is most damaging to our District. They are not only applying for a Charter School within District lines, and not only recruiting NON-PA residents to it, but specifically targeting other basic aid districts, which they know full well will be non-reimbursed students.

Additionally, they obviously do not believe there is enough demand inside PA for their program, which really calls in to question their motives for pursuing it to be located in Palo Alto at all, versus in another District. Why not locate in a District that has the need, the space, and the ability to be reimbursed for an MI program?

There is no more hurtful way to us than this to get what they want. What is driving this?

(The following is what was posted on the Palo Alto Menlo Park Mother's list)



We are collecting the names of people who would be interested in having their children attend a mandarin immersion charter school in palo alto starting in fall 2008 with kindergarten and first grades. A charter school is a public school, and you need not be a resident of palo alto to attend.
Our vision is to create a K-5 school which provides an excellent education in both Mandarin and English. If you have a child/children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall of 2007 OR LATER and you would like them to attend such a school, please email me with the following information, and I will put you in our database. This is not a commitment for enrollment in this school. We are just seeking interested parties to focus our efforts in developing the program.

1. Parent Name(s)
2. Address (Street, city, zip)
3. email address
4. telephone #
5. Child #1 Name and year they will enter Kindergarten (must be 2007 or
6. Child #2 Name and year they will enter Kindergarten

this list may be used to communicate with you about the school as planning
progresses, and may be used to show that there is indeed a need and a demand
for such a school, but it will not be made public.

if you would like to join in the planning and creation of the school, please
email grmah2001@yahoo. com.

thank you,
nerissa wong-vanharen


Comments (14)

Like this comment
Posted by Resident of PAUSD
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Forgot to put in a response to the above that was also listed on the PAMP list
Dear Parents,
Before you reply to the plea that was recently sent out, please be
aware that there is considerable controversy around this effort and
that your input may be used in a political battle without your having
been apprised of all the issues.

Here is a recent article in the Palo Alto Weekly about it.
( link deleted, too many links in this post)
Also, here is a link to the most recent discussion on the Palo Alto
Town Square with people weighing in on both sides of the issue:.
Web Link square/index. php?i=3&d= &t=948

There have been a series of good articles in the Paly Voice about the
school board meetings and votes over Mandarin Immersion.
Web Link. view_story. php?id=4989( there were 2 more, but deleted because too many links to post)

As a PAUSD parent, I think there are better ways to go about getting
language instruction (because we currently have none in elementary
school) and even immersion that are not so costly to the district at
the expense of higher priorities and goodwill among parents.

If you would like to see the PIE benchmark study that compared PAUSD
to other similar districts across the country, to get the bigger
picture about some of those educational priorities, please go to:
Web Link. org/press/ benchmarking_ study.pdf
Web Link. org/press/ benchmarking_ presentation. pdf

(Note that our district is the only one that does not have at least
some language instruction available to all elementary students.):


Get your own web address.

Like this comment
Posted by PAMP member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2007 at 1:22 pm

You forgot this posting, also:

Re:Charter Schools

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.

Like this comment
Posted by pa mom
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2007 at 2:10 pm

I've heard if there are more applicants than spaces, then preference can be given to PAUSD kids. If this is indeed true, PACE knows exactly what they are doing.

Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2007 at 2:22 pm

If i had not read this, I would not have believed it. Arrogance -squared.

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2007 at 4:36 pm

Anyone know if Menlo Park a basic aid district? I heard they are.

Where can we see a list of basic aid districts?

Basic Aid districts are NOT compensated for students that attend from other Basic Aid districts unless those two individual districts have entered into a reciprocal agreement.

pa mom - oh absolutely PACE knows what they're doing. They're blatently working the system to create leverage (fear) to get their way.

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Hmmm, they need 80 students from PAUSD? 80 kids--60 of whom would have to be transferred from another school. 80 kids whose parents are willing to risk transferring from a top PAUSD school and, quite possibly, not be able to transfer back.

People pay a lot for their kids to go to school here. The MI folks don't seem to be educators for the most part. They'll need leadership that persuades people to transfer over. Push comes to shove, I don't think they've got it.

Seriously, which would you choose--top school with language options, including immersion during summertime, or an untried immersion program started by people who don't have a background in education?

Like this comment
Posted by Pam
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2007 at 5:50 pm

I believe that Menlo Park students would not be eligible to attend a charter school located in Santa Clara county (not that it makes recruiting them any more palatable).

Basic aid districts. At one point in 2003-04, there were 65 basic aid school districts in California, including 35 in the Bay Area. Some may have changed their status since the list was published. I don't know why Los Altos is on the list if the poster above is correct that they are a revenue limit district! According to this California Board of Education list, the basic aid districts are:

Marin County
Elementary: Bolinas-Stinson, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Nicasio, Reed Union, Ross, Sausalito. Unified: Shoreline. High: San Rafael City, Tamalpais Union.

San Mateo County
Elementary: Belmont-Redwood Shores, Hillsborough City, Las Lomitas, Menlo Park City, Portola Valley, Woodside. High: San Mateo Union, Sequoia Union.

Santa Clara County
Elementary: Lakeside Joint, Los Altos, Los Gatos Union, Mountain View-Los Altos, Saratoga Union, Sunnyvale. Unified: Palo Alto, Santa Clara. High: Fremont, Los Gatos-Saratoga.

Source: California Department of Education

Like this comment
Posted by Resident of PAUSD
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2007 at 6:55 pm

I am also a Charter School AND Voucher supporter. I believe in the premise of both.

I am NOT a supporter of either in a Basic Aid District. Until that is not an issue, I completely oppose anything which forces this District to supplement a few at the expense of the many. Revenue limit districts have different funding structures, hence the effect is different.

Revenue limit Districts get more money for attracting students...Basic Aid Districts don't

Like this comment
Posted by Another PAUSD Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2007 at 9:13 pm

This is mind boggling to say the least. If they have done this once on a Menlo Park list, I suspect that they have done this on many other lists at Day Cares, businesses, etc. These people have contacts and I suspect that this is not the only one of these contacted. I also suspect that they must be about to advertise the same message in other media. We must be prepared to deal with this. They are well organised and ahead of the game. I hope that somehow the anti movement is getting organised to somehow counter all their attacks.

Like this comment
Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 6, 2007 at 11:00 am

Before people get too concerned about this happening - what are the chances of recruiting 80 students to a charter school (of only 2 grades) so 40 kinders and 40 kids out of current PAUSD schools with an ethnic mix which matches that of the PAUSD?

Like this comment
Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 6, 2007 at 12:33 pm

to Resident of PAUSD,
Thanks for informing me of the incredible tactic used by the Mandarin Immersion charter schools proponents - it angers me to see people proposing schemes that may damage our school district, and appealing to outsiders to do that is the limit.I guess Palo Alto taxpayers are supposed to shoulder the burden for things like this?? I urge the PAUSD BoE to refuse any petition for a charter school from this group - let them take it to the county and we'll fight it there.

Like this comment
Posted by jq public
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 6, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Charter school must admit from everywhere, though they can give preference to local school district and county.

Also, if located within a basic aid district, they get $0 from other basic aid district originating students. If the student comes from a revenue limit district, then they get 70% of the normal state allotment.

Educational code 47605

(2) (A) A charter school shall admit all pupils who wish to attend
the school.
(B) However, if the number of pupils who wish to attend the
charter school exceeds the school's capacity, attendance, except for
existing pupils of the charter school, shall be determined by a
public random drawing. Preference shall be extended to pupils
currently attending the charter school and pupils who reside in the
county except as provided for in Section 47614.5. Other preferences
may be permitted by the chartering authority on an individual school
basis and only if consistent with the law.
(C) In the event of a drawing, the county board of education shall
make reasonable efforts to accommodate the growth of the charter
school and, in no event, shall take any action to impede the charter
school from expanding enrollment to meet pupil demand.

Code 47662 - Basic Aid Districts
47663. (a) For a pupil of a charter school sponsored by a basic aid
school district who resides in, and is otherwise eligible to attend,
a school district other than a basic aid school district, the
Superintendent of Public Instruction shall apportion to the
sponsoring school district an amount equal to 70 percent of the
revenue limit per unit of average daily attendance that would have
been apportioned to the school district that the pupil resides in and
would otherwise have been eligible to attend.
(b) A district that loses basic aid status as a result of
transferring property taxes to a charter school or schools pursuant
to Section 47635 shall be eligible to receive a pro rata share of
funding provided by subdivision (a)....

Like this comment
Posted by SouthWind67
a resident of Escondido School
on Oct 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

For most of our generation, the management and ownership have turned us off from the organization. ,

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2009 at 1:22 pm

SouthWind 67,

Which organization? PACE? PAMP? PAUSD?

The burden of 500+ students (and climbing) at Ohlone is severe, but clearly the board likes the idea of making the school even bigger.

I don't really think the charter option would have been worse for the district. At this point, I think it would have been better for all of the students. The Ohlone/MI mash-up is an ongoing administrative headaches that gives everybody short shrift.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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