SLV School District Perspectives
School Board Meeting Synopsis
February 17, 2004
Link To SLVUSD Web site Agendas and Minutes Page (Note: These are PDF files - read this if you have trouble opening them). Minutes are posted after they are approved, usually at the next regular meeting.
Note from Laura About These Synopses (Basically, I report on what I think will be most interesting to community residents. Consult the minutes for a more complete listing of what happened in the meeting.)
Their was no closed session listed on the agenda.
The gym lobby at the high school is completed.
Everyone seems enthusiastic about the Baldridge training.
There was no general community input. After the charter law presentation, two people expressed support for the proposed charter submitted at the 2/3/04 meeting.
Presentation from Legal Council - Charter Schools: A Legal Overview
Attorney Mattie Scott gave us a presentation about the legal requirements and time-lines governing the Board's consideration of petitions for independent charter schools, and a summary of laws regarding District oversight responsibilities.
Charter school law was passed in California in 1992, although there have been many changes in the law since that time. The purpose of the law was to encourage innovation and choice in education. Charter schools are exempt from many of the regulations of "regular" public schools, yet they are public schools, and open to all students. They may operated as independent or dependent in their relationship to the District where they reside. Charter 25 was one of the first charter schools in California, and was founded in 1993 here in the SLV District. It began as an independent charter, but now is operated by the SLVUSD as a dependent charter school, which means that it totally administered by and integrated into the District. This charter school now has nine titles, including several homeschool programs, the Nature Academy, and White Oak High School.
The proposed charter school would be an independent school within the SLVUSD, but the District is required by law to provide certain things to the school. Among them are:
- A facility, provided the charter proposal follows a certain timeline and has at least 80 students who live in the District (in the case of a school under development, they would need signatures from the parents of at least 80 students saying that they are "meaningfully interested" in having their children attend). This would be true whether the charter is approved by the District, County, or State. (If the SLVUSD declines to approve the charter, the proponents will attempt to get approval from the Santa Cruz County Board of Education, and, failing that, the California State Board of Education.)
It appears that the current proposal has missed the deadline to be assured a District facility for the fall, but the District could still decide to provide them one.
- Special Ed services. The District is responsible for providing special ed services to students in the charter school (even if those students live outside the charter area). The District can choose to negotiate with the charter school to be reimbursed by them for services not covered by state or federal money. As I understood the attorney, this would be done before the charter would be approved. If the County approves the charter, the District will be exempt from special ed costs.
- Oversight. The District must make sure that the charter school is complying with regulations. The school, in turn, must respond to reasonable inquiries. The District must also monitor the fiscal condition of the school. (If they don't provide adequate oversight, they may be responsible for debts incurred by the charter school.)
For its part, the charter proposal must be shown to be educationally sound, the petitioners must demonstrate that they are capable of implementing it, and they have to include descriptions of their proposed school as set forth in the Education Code.
There will be a public hearing about the proposed charter school at the next board meeting on March 2.
Our financial audit has been submitted to the state. I am glad that this sort of thing is not my job.
Impending Layoffs of Certificated Staff
Background: Up until this point, SLVUSD has avoided laying off permanent staff. The reduction in teachers in recent years has been accomplished by normal attrition, not renewing temporary contracts, and encouraging early retirement. Sadly, the time seems to have come.
It is unknown how many teachers will ultimately have to go, but based on enrollment projections, and including the possibility of the new independent charter, 22.6 FTE teachers will be notified of possibly having to be laid off. This, of course, is a huge bummer. :-( :-( However, not all of them will likely leave. Some teachers always move or leave for other reasons, leaving spaces for more, and a cushion was built in for unknowns such as the charter.
Eric Schoffstall outlined the procedure for deciding which teachers will be laid off. It's basically seniority, except for certain circumstances such as special skills and qualifications.
Meeting was adjourned at around 8:15 PM.