UPDATE, January 13, 2012: The Contra Costa County Board of Education unanimously approved the conversion of Clayton Valley High School to a charter school on Tuesday, January 10 at packed board meeting, reports Theresa Harrington of the Contra Costa Times.
Trustees still expressed concerns:
Trustee Dan Gomes suggested that the charter consider accepting the same level of funding as other high schools in the district, instead of the higher charter rates. But county superintendent Joe Ovick said trustees could not consider financial impact in their decision.
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla has introduced legislation to help to remedy the financial impact of charter schools on school districts.
Another issue of concern was special education. Mt. Diablo's board president, Sherry Whitmarsh, said she believes the charter should serve all special education students in its attendance area, including those who go to nonpublic schools. But according to state law, the charter must only accommodate special education students that attend the school.
The approval included 12 conditions that must be met by March and June.
If approved by the Contra Costa County Board of Education, Clayton Valley High School will become the first public school in the county to convert to a charter school, reports Theresa Harrington of the Contra Costa Times.
Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) board of education turned down the initial application for the charter conversion in a 4-1 vote in November citing a lack of financial requirements; the decision was appealed and county trustees heard arguments from the public and district officials at a board meeting last night.
Pat Middendorf, above, co-chair of the Clayton Valley Charter Steering Committee, claims the charter conversion will reduce overhead costs and said she will rebut the district's financial analysis; county board president Pamela Mirabella said she expects to inquire into those details. A decision is expected in the next 60 days.
From the Contra Costa Times (emphases ours):
Although the charter has garnered overwhelming support from the Clayton and Concord communities it aims to serve, several parents, teachers and administrators from other schools oppose it because the district estimates it would lose $1.8 million to $4.2 million a year in revenues, which could mean cuts to other campuses. However, the board cannot legally deny the charter based on the financial impact to the district.
MDUSD Superintendent Steven Lawrence is lobbying state leaders to change the law that requires unified districts to pay about $921 more per student to high school charter conversions than they receive from the state.
Next month, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla plans to introduce legislation that would allow districts to consider the financial impact in their decisions to approve or deny charters, said Luis Quinonez, Bonilla's chief of staff.
Written for California's Children by Elizabeth J Carlyle.