Comstock's magazine 0419 - April 2019 - Page 56

n EDUCATION received a letter that Paramount would be closing immedi- ately due to financial problems, according to media reports. “Very little oversight from the State was provided,” Kern says, “and the school closed the doors on its students in the middle of the year, thus causing some real hardship on the students [and] families enrolled.” Another major item also on the reform wish list: rules re- lating to location. Currently, site-based charter schools are not required by law to locate within the same geographic area as their authorizing districts. Intended to allow charters the freedom to move beyond bounds — if, say, they need a temporary spot while building a brick-and-mortar campus within the district, or if the immediate area lacks facility space for a new school — the exception is easy to abuse. A charter operator, for instance, could seek sponsorship from a small, financially strapped district that lacks space for a school. With the assurance that the school will be lo- cated elsewhere, the district approves the petition and then gets 1 percent of the charter school’s revenue (or potentially more, should it provide the charter with additional services), without competing for students. “So [an operator] will go to a tiny school district that has a really tiny boundary area and get authorized and say, ‘Oh, there’s no space for us to locate here,’ and then boom, end up in Roseville. Boom, end up in Rocklin,” Garbolino-Mojica says. Meanwhile, neighboring campuses and the local school district must now deal with students leaving to attend this new option, but neither have any say in where or how the charter school operates. Additionally, a small district or one located far away may not be able to provide quality over- sight (see sidebar, pg. 55). “I believe when a district out- side of the local boundaries authorizes a charter, the level of involvement and oversight is greatly diminished,” says Superintendent Kern, of San Juan Unified. “I think the best situation is for districts to authorize charters within their current boundaries.” THE UPSIDE Since opening in 1993, the Natomas Charter School has grown from 80 pupils to over 1,800 and has become a bench- mark for success. Its advertising materials boast that gradu- ates have a 95 percent acceptance rate to four-year univer- sities and ranks in the top 10 percent of high schools in the nation, by U.S. News & World Report. Sanchez, the eighth-grade technology teacher, had taught for 14 years in a traditional public school in El Dora- A School Like No Other Be more... Student. Alumni. Family. Community! 56 | April 2019