Understanding California charter schools: a quick guide | EdSource

By Mikhail Zinshteyn

Charter schools are frequently in the news, but it’s not always clear how they compare to traditional public schools. EdSource has compiled the following FAQ to give readers a quick and clear primer on these public schools that are often the subject of heated political debates. Find out how many charters are in California and in the U.S., what the major fault lines are between charter schools and their opponents, and what some of the functions of charters are that make them distinct from traditional public schools.

What are charter schools, who runs them and how are they different from traditional public schools?

Charter schools are public schools that get funding from the state and enjoy flexibilities in hiring, curriculum and management. Unlike traditional public schools that are run by school districts with an elected school board and a superintendent it appoints, most charter schools are run by organizations with their own self-appointed boards.

Source: Understanding California charter schools: a quick guide | EdSource

VUSD leaders deny Pacific Valley Charter petition – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

To no one’s overwhelming surprise, Vacaville Unified leaders on Thursday denied a petition for Pacific Valley Charter School Academy, currently called Heritage Peak Charter School, an independent study learning center housed at 354 Parker St.

The unanimous 7-0 vote was the second time in four years that trustees rejected the school’s charter petition from the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, which, headed by executive director Paul Keefer, operates several independent charter schools, most of them in the Sacramento area.

The governing board’s decision — barely meeting a 60-day deadline to take action on the petition — followed a one-hour block of time that included a district staff presentation to recommend denial of the petition, Keefer’s rebuttal and clarifications, pro-petition remarks by Heritage Park teachers and parents, and trustee comments.

 

Source: VUSD leaders deny Pacific Valley Charter petition

VUSD leaders expected to nix charter school petition – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A possible denial of a charter school petition, several large contracts, from auditing services to crossing guards to food services, and formal approval of two Local Control Accountability Plans and the 2017-18 budget are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet Thursday.

According to agenda documents, the seven-member governing board will vote to deny or approve a petition to establish the Pacific Valley Charter Academy, currently called Heritage Peak Charter School, an independent study learning center housed at 354 Parker St.

There will be a staff presentation, a presentation by Paul Keefer, executive director of the school’s parent organization, the Sacramento-based Pacific Charter Institute, which operates several charter schools, followed by trustee questions and comments.

But the district already appears ready to deny Keefer’s petition, as a formally worded resolution to do so was included as part of the agenda.

 

Source: VUSD leaders expected to nix charter school petition

Budget, suicide-prevention policy on Kairos agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy leaders, when they meet Monday in Vacaville, are expected to approve the 2017-18 annual budget and accompanying Local Control Accountability Plan, to meet a June 30 deadline mandated by the Solano County Office of Education.

The board of directors, led by Executive Director Jared Austin, also is expected to approve a board policy and administrative regulation concerning suicide prevention, as required by Assembly Bill 2246, enacted last year. Authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, the bill requires school districts to adopt formal suicide-prevention, intervention and follow-up plans for all middle and high school students, including provisions that specifically address the needs of “high-risk groups.”

Source: Budget, suicide-prevention policy on Kairos agenda

Interviews for Buckingham principal job underway – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Job interviews for the principal opening at Buckingham Charter Magnet High School are being held this week in the wake of the resignation of Mike Boles, a Vacaville Unified official has confirmed.

Boles, who worked at the Bella Vista Road campus for the past two years, announced in an email sent to staff just hours after the school’s graduation ceremony Friday morning that he would “be moving to another position within the school district.”

Jennifer Leonard, the district’s public information officer, was unsure where Boles, also a former head football coach at Wood High, would be assigned because it is a decision that, ultimately, will be determined by the district’s governing board.

The job opening was posted on the district’s website, www.vacavilleusd.org, May 18 and it closed May 31.

 

Source: Interviews for Buckingham principal job underway

Kairos directors hear draft of suicide-prevention policy – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy leaders heard the first draft of the charter school’s suicide-prevention policy, which, in accordance with state law, must be adopted by July 1.

In a board of directors meeting Monday, Pat Broughton, the education services director, introduced the three-page policy and the accompanying two-page administrative regulation.

Such policies, under Assembly Bill 2246 enacted last yearare required by every California school district, and, as an independent TK-8 charter school, — a school largely governed by its own board of directors and the California Department of Education — Kairos is, essentially, its own school district.

Authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, the bill requires school districts to adopt formal suicide-prevention, intervention and follow-up plans for all middle and high school students, including provisions that specifically address the needs of “high-risk groups.”

 

Source: Kairos directors hear draft of suicide-prevention policy

New charter school petition aired during Vacaville school board meeting – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Just how local education leaders on June 29 will vote on a proposed and newly named independent charter school is unknown, but a Sacramento-area charter school group director who has once again petitioned Vacaville Unified officials to have its downtown Vacaville school be aligned with the district faced a spate of pointed questions Thursday night.

Paul Keefer, executive director of Pacific Charter Institute, a nonprofit charter company that operates four charter schools, made a 15-minute presentation during a packed governing board meeting in the Educational Services Center, touting the independent charter school’s standardized test results, suspension rate, education model and demographics.

But during a question-and-answer session with trustees, he at times appeared to stumble at providing quick answers from board members, especially Whit Whitman, and could not provide some sought-after financial information about Heritage Peak, the learning center at 354 Parker St. in downtown Vacaville. (If the petition is approved, it will be renamed as Pacific Valley Charter Academy.)

 

Source: New charter school petition aired during Vacaville school board meeting

Solano Community Foundation bestows Nelson Scholarships – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Solano Community Foundation has awarded sizable scholarships to 10 Vacaville high school seniors, it has been announced.

Seven students received Harry and Eleanor D. Nelson Scholarships, five from Will C. Wood High, including Dylan Nute, Ian Kitamura, Mercedes Hall, Willow Rigney and Hailey Milsaps; one from Buckingham Charter High, Mikayla Canales; and one from Vacaville High, Cassidy Aberson. Each four-year award is worth $14,000, or $3,500 per year.

Cassiel Nortier-Tilly of Vacaville High School received the Grace B. Powell Vacaville High School Scholarship, a one-time award of $5,000. Powell was principal of Vacaville High and promoted academic achievement. An annual citywide spelling bee is named after her.

Kristoffer Hernandez of Vacaville High and Rita Zughbaba from Buckingham Charter will receive an Auldin Briggs Achievement Scholarship of $2,500 each for one year. Briggs was a sheet metal worker at Mare Island, and later taught mechanical drawing at Solano Community College.

Source: Solano Community Foundation bestows Nelson Scholarships

New charter school petition on Vacaville Unified agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

A petition from an independent charter school in Vacaville, two Local Control Accountability Plans from a pair of dependent charter schools in Vacaville, and a nearly $1 million construction contract are on the agenda when Vacaville Unified leaders meet tonight in Vacaville.

Already rebuffed once, the leader of a Sacramento-area charter school group has once again petitioned Vacaville Unified leaders to have its downtown Vacaville school be aligned with the 12,500-student district.

The governing board will hear a presentation by Paul Keefer, executive director of Pacific Charter Institute, then seek comments and questions from the public and trustees.

The governing board — which, in July 2013, rejected the charter submitted on behalf of Heritage Peak, the PCI charter school at 354 Parker St. — will take action on the petition, an up-or-down vote, as required by law, at its June 29 meeting.

 

Source: New charter school petition on Vacaville Unified agenda

Vallejo school board approves new charter – Times Herald

By John Glidden

A petition to open a new charter school in the city won approval by the Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education during a May 3 meeting.

The petition — submitted by Mare Island Technology Academy officials — earned unanimous support from the VCUSD board. The Griffin Academy Middle School will be the third MIT charter in the city of Vallejo, joining a middle and high school.

Much of the board discussion centered around whether the charter should receive an initial three-year or five-year term.

Cheri Summers, the district’s chief academic officer, said staff recommended three years after noting the petition lacked depth and detail in certain areas but was still “technically compliant” with state law.

Lynne Vaughan, who serves on the MIT Academy Board of Directors, asked the board to consider giving the new charter a five-year term. She addressed the concerns of staff which focused mainly around the school’s learning program.

 

Source: Vallejo school board approves new charter

Rebuffed once, Sacramento-area charter school leader petitions VUSD again – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Already rebuffed once, the leader of a Sacramento-area charter school group has once again petitioned Vacaville Unified leaders to have its downtown Vacaville school be aligned with the 12,500-student district.

When it meets Thursday, the governing board plans to hear a presentation by Paul Keefer, executive director of Pacific Charter Institute, then seek comments and questions from the public and trustees.

The governing board — which, in July 2013, rejected the charter submitted on behalf of Heritage Peak, the PCI charter school at 354 Parker St. — will take action on the petition, an up-or-down vote, as required by law, at its June 29 meeting.

Keefer on April 28 sent notice of his renewed intentions to VUSD offices on Nut Tree Road. By law, the district has 60 days from receipt of the petition to make a decision. The last time Keefer engaged in the process with the district, trustees, on a 4-2 vote in a packed meeting room in the Educational Services center, rejected the petition, citing its “unsound educational plan.”

 

Source: Rebuffed once, Sacramento-area charter school leader petitions VUSD again

Buckingham artist ‘layers it on’ for annual student art show – Daily Republic

By Amy Maginnis-Honey

Hannah Siu loves the outdoors and art.

She’s employed both passions in “Mystical Meadow,” one of nearly 300 entries submitted to the Vacaville Art League’s annual student show. An honorable mention ribbon sits next to her creation on a pedestal.

The Buckingham High School senior used about 10 layers of paper to create the three-dimensional scene. She carved with a thin tool and used about 30 pieces of paper in the accordion-style piece.

It was created during her painting and sculpting class at school when her instructor encouraged the students to be creative, she said.

Source: Buckingham artist ‘layers it on’ for annual student art show

Measure Q items, charter school petition on DUSD agenda – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Business related to Measure Q, the $30.4 million bond approved by voters in November, and a public hearing on the Norcal Trade and Tech Center Charter School petition are on the agenda when Dixon Unified leaders meet tonight in Dixon.

The five-member governing board is expected to approve a $864,000 contract with LPA Inc. for design services related to the modernization of Old Dixon High, built in 1940 when Franklin Roosevelt was president. LPA is an architectural firm with offices in California and Texas, from Sacramento and San Diego to Dallas and San Antonio.

Later in the meeting, trustees also are expected to approve some additional applicants to serve on the Citizens Oversight Committee for Measure Q. Typically, bond oversight committees are tasked with being stewards of the money, delivering periodic updates to the governing board on how the money is being spent. Agenda documents did not list the names of the applicants, but two were approved in March, one in April, and Superintendent Brian Dolan, noted the latest applicants bring the committee closer to being fully staffed.

Source: Measure Q items, charter school petition on DUSD agenda

Local charter school students publish book of short stories – Daily Republic

By Daily Republic Staff

Eight Solano County junior high students have developed a book of their own short stories as part of their language arts course.

The students are Lisette Adundez, Caden Hiteshew, Madeline LeBron, Kawika Makua, Warren Dominguez, Carolyn West, Josiah West and Spencer Young. Their book, “Ready for Liftoff,” is available on Amazon.

“They all belong to different charter schools,” said Mia Douglas, director of the Launch tutoring program, which these students have been enrolled in for two years.

Source: Local charter school students publish book of short stories

Vallejo school board to decide numerous items – Times Herald

By John Glidden

A charter school petition, Internet services, and creation of an advisory committee to assist with selection of a superintendent search firm are all before the Vallejo City Unified School District Governing Board Wednesday night.

District staff is recommending trustees approve an application for a third Mare Island Technology charter school. If approved, the MIT Griffin Academy Middle School will have an initial charter from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021.

MIT currently operates two charters: A middle school and high school.

• Also before the board is a proposed 10-year agreement with Zayo Networks to provide Internet services for the district. The VCUSD currently pays $31,200 per year to AT&T for Internet and phone services, a student information system, site surveillance, paging systems, clocks, fiscal accounting and online curriculum.

 

Source: Vallejo school board to decide numerous items

Controversial charter bill could face prolonged fight in Legislature | EdSource

By Mikhail Zinshteyn

Californians on both sides of the charter school debate can expect two years of hearings over Senate Bill 808, a bill that would restrict the charter school approval process, which critics claim could lead to the shuttering of many of the schools.

During a press conference Monday at the Capitol, the bill’s author, Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, outlined a two-year roadmap for the proposed law’s passage that includes an eventual vote on the bill.

“Yes, this bill will be going through the process like any other bill, and eventually it’ll be having a vote,” Mendoza said. That process includes a hearing in the Senate Education Committee this week and meetings in communities throughout the state this year.

Source: Controversial charter bill could face prolonged fight in Legislature | EdSource

Area high school robotics teams tally mixed results at world championships – The Reporter

By Richard Bammer

Vacaville-area high school robotics teams posted mixed results but gained immeasurable experience at the 2017 FIRST Robotics World Championships, The Reporter has learned.

Held in Houston last week, Wednesday through Saturday, the competition yielded the final tallies, with the RoboVikes from Vanden High, in the 67-team Galileo division, in 13th place; the RoboKnights from Buckingham Charter High in 43rd in the Hopper division; and the Armijo High Robotics squad in 66th, also in the Galileo division.

Long a robotics powerhouse and mentor to other robotics teams, the RoboVikes, veterans of several world championship runs, ended up in first place after the first day of competition, Thursday, in the George Brown Convention Center, for essentially a STEM face-off that attracted 400 teams (in five divisions) from the West and South and from several foreign countries, including Australia, China and Turkey. (Because the championship has grown in popularity, another round of championship matches is this coming weekend in St. Louis.)

Source: Area high school robotics teams tally mixed results at world championships

Benicia High, Benicia Middle honored with ‘Gold Ribbon’ awards – Times Herald

By Katy St. Clair

Both Benicia High and Benicia Middle School were two of six Solano County schools to be selected for 2017’s “California Gold Ribbon” recognition.

Gold Ribbon schools are designated by the California Department of Education and represent what it considers exemplars of “best practices” in education.

“This is a tremendous honor and well-deserved recognition for these schools,” Solano County Superintendent Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement.

Schools apply for the honor and are whittled down after meeting “rigorous” criteria, according to Assistant Superintendent for Solano County Victor Romualdi.

Source: Benicia High, Benicia Middle honored with ‘Gold Ribbon’ awards – Times Herald

Six Solano schools earn golden grades from state – Daily Republic

By Todd R. Hansen

Six Solano schools have been designated as California Gold Ribbon Schools, the county Office of Education reported Wednesday.

Armijo, Benicia and Elise P. Buckingham Charter Magnet high schools were selected by the state Department of Education for the honor, as were the Public Safety Academy, and the Benicia and Green Valley middle schools.

Additionally, Benicia Middle School received an award for being a Title I Academic Achieving School.

Source: Six Solano schools earn golden grades from state

Buckingham honored among Gold Ribbon Schools – The Reporter

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Tuesday announced that 275 middle schools and high schools are being honored under the Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.

Among the award winners is Buckingham Charter Magnet High School of the Vacaville Unified School District. The list also includes Armijo High School, Green Valley Middle School and the Public Safety Academy of the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. Benicia High School and Benicia Middle School are also honored.

“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said in a press release. “I look forward to travelling the state to honor these schools and to help share the programs, methods, and techniques that are working.”

Source: Buckingham honored among Gold Ribbon Schools