Links to Einstein Academy’s most recent petitions for charter schools before the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District are located at the end of this story.
Looking to clear up a lot of “misinformation” going on about a recent charter-school petition for Albert Einstein Academy for the Letters, Arts and Sciences, an Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District board member gave the reasoning for his conditional support of the petition this week.
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“It’s not about the (funding) we’d receive (from chartering a school outside of district boundaries), it’s about the school that we’d get in 2014-15,” said Ed Porter, board member for the Acton Agua Dulce district.
While Einstein Academy is seeking approval for an elementary school charter outside the confines of Acton Agua Dulce’s physical boundaries, Einstein officials are promising Acton Agua Dulce officials a school site within the district’s boundaries by the following school year.
The promise would come in the form of a memorandum of understanding that guarantees a charter school site within the district, run by the district, in the 2014-15 school year, Porter said.
Without the promised school, there’s no support for a charter site outside of district boundaries, he said.
“If I even get a whiff that the MOU doesn’t guarantee that, I won’t vote for this,” Porter said. “We have half the enrollment that we had two years ago.”
In a letter from local district superintendents penned this week, the board was asked not to approve an Einstein Academy charter within the Santa Clarita Valley, questioning the school’s motives in seeking a school site outside of Acton Agua Dulce district boundaries.
The William S. Hart Union High School District has a approved a charter school petition for Einstein Academy for a seventh- through 12th-grade school.
Saugus Union officials have denied an Einstein Academy charter petition for an elementary school four times, and the Newhall School District denied it once. Two petitions have been withdrawn from the Los Angeles County Office of Education after staff recommendations called for denials.
The board is currently awaiting a staff recommendation, and a memorandum of understanding from district staff and AEALAS Foundation officials before making their next move.
A decision could be made at the district’s meeting Thursday, Porter said. If any stakeholders request more time to consider the agreement, the petition’s deliberation could be delayed.
Under charter law, the school district has 60 days to consider the petition. The petition was first submitted at a hearing April 21.
While legal within the confines of the state’s education code, the move draws Full-Time Enrollment funding from Santa Clarita Valley districts. Iit also skirts the intent of charter law, which is the district superintendents’ main contention, according to their letter.
Porter said that while he is sensitive to the concern over the lost enrollment funding, he has to do what’s best for the students and parents in his district. He cited a massive amount parent support that calls for the charter approval.
“Obviously, our allegiance is to what our district is doing. I’m under tremendous pressure from our parents to approve this charter,” Porter said, adding that he’s gotten 10-20 times more calls on this than he has for any other issue.
The problem is with the state law and how school funding has been doled out — or at least promised by Sacramento, which hasn’t delivered, he said.
Part of the issue was that the state didn’t deliver on its half of the funding after a bond measure was approved to build a new school, Porter said.
He also noted that the state has drastically cut school funding, and it has also lost enrollment funding to Santa Clarita Valley charters.
Einstein officials said the school counts approximately 100 Acton-Agua Dulce among its waiting list for enrollment.
The state grants local districts approximately $7,571 per student for each full-time enrollment.
A charter school receiving that funding, because a charter school is technically run as a public school with the oversight of local districts, must give 1 percent of those funds to the district overseeing it.
“We’re hoping to get more than 300 kids that way,” Porter said, referring to the school that would be promised in the MOU.
“It’s not about the measly 1 percent,” Porter said, “ It’s about giving those parents (seeking a charter school) the option.”
Here’s a copy of Einstein Academy’s elementary school charter. Here’s a copy of Einstein Academy’s petition for a charter high school.
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Source: Santa Clarita News