With a 3-2 vote Thursday from the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District’s governing board, Einstein Academy finally received charter approval in the Santa Clarita Valley.
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Albert Einstein Academy for the Letters, Arts and Science was approved for a Mandarin language charter school Thursday at a special hearing by the district. Board members Debbie Rocha and Larry Layton voted against the petition.
“We are losing 300-400 kids a year,” said AADUSD superintendent Brent Woodard, noting that a memorandum of understanding would bring the district a dependent school site that the district would run, in addition to the Santa Clarita Valley location they intended to open next year.
“I’m charged with covering that deficit, and it’s growing,” Woodard said, citing an operating deficit that’s growing to $331,932, in 2012-13, 2013-14 its projected to be 423,153 and more than a half-million dollars in 2014-15.
“The parents have voted for this, with their feet,” he added, saying Agua Dulce Elementary has lost more than half its students to other schools over the last several years.
“It’s nice to see a district that’s responsive to its community,” said Jeffrey Shapiro, executive director for the AEALAS Foundation, which submitted the charter petitions for a kindergarten to sixth-grade school and a high school.
The K-6 school will be opened near the high school that the William S. Hart Union High School District chartered for Einstein Academy, Shapiro said.
The decision came after hours of discussion from Woodard, the board and about a dozen members of the community, who spoke for and against the plan.
The three board members who spoke in favor of the petition cited the overwhelming support from parents and the need to address the state’s cuts to district funding as the driving force.
The two who spoke against cited that part of their concern was the funding issues that had been brought up by Saugus Union School District board members, who have denied the charter four times.
Layton objected for that reason, and on ethical grounds.
“I was raised by the Golden Rule,” said Layton. “I don’t think we would like it very much if Santa Clarita Valley school districts opened a charter school in our area to solve their funding problems.”
He also didn’t like that fellow board members likened their educational system to a free market economy, with one member comparing it to a grocery store. If good food isn’t provided, then parents will go else where, and that’s what they’ve been doing.
However board Vice President Matt Ridenour brought up the enrollment issue again, noting that the schools that are upset over this are the ones that have been taking enrollments from AADUSD for years.
“These are the folks who take approximately a million dollars a year from us, and have been doing it for years and years with the students they’ve been taking from us — ‘Oh, there’s a district up there now?'” he asked rhetorically. “I find little sympathy for that group of folks right now.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News