Charter applications could provide insight on LAUSD board sentiments
Mike Szymanski | December 7, 2015
Applications for six new charter schools will come before the LA Unified school board at its meeting tomorrow, the biggest wave of requests since the Broad Foundation proposed a plan to expand the number of charter schools in LAUSD.
In addition, eight other charters are seeking renewals.
While the board will not vote on the new applications for at least another month, any public discussion on the requests could provide valuable insights into the board’s latest sentiments on charter expansion by an outside group and on more charters, in general. LA Unified is already home to more independent charter schools than any school district in the country.
The plan for rapid expansion in LA Unified is now in the hands of a Broad offshoot, Great Public Schools Now, which intends to raise $400 million to invest in new charters and high-performing public schools that serve low-income students.
The new charter requests come as opposition to the plan is building. The teacher’s union, UTLA, is asking members to protest at the meeting, and two anti-charter resolutions are under consideration, although in deference to the board’s need to spend more time on other issues while the superintendent search continues, they were postponed until the board’s January meeting. One seeks to oppose efforts to open charters at the expense of traditional district schools, an obvious response to GPSN; the other would create greater scrutiny of charters.
“I have no idea how the board will act,” said Caprice Young, CEO of Magnolia Public Schools, which has eight schools already in the district and is having a public hearing tomorrow to open three more. “I have kept my head down during this Broad plan so we’re not really involved in that.”
Young, who served on the school board, noted that it’s part of the responsibilities of the elected officials to make sure that new schools proposed in the district meet educational requirements. It’s also important that the rules are met evenly.
“It’s a good thing that the board looks closely when they are creating a school, and that scrutiny should be the same for all schools,” Young said, adding, “I am hoping that it will not mean that these applications will take more time. It always costs the charter schools more money the more time it takes.”
By board rules, as many as 12 public speakers can address each of the new applications. That could make for a long afternoon. But it also could open the door to telling remarks — critical or otherwise — from board members who will be facing even more applications in the years ahead if GPSN fulfills its mission.
Magnolia’s requests for for schools in the East and West San Fernando Valley and the West Adams area near downtown to supplement existing schools they have nearby. the others for Arts in Action Community Middle School and Center for Advanced Learning Middle School in south Los Angeles, a PUC International Preparatory Academy in Northeast Los Angeles and a WISH Academy High School in Westchester.
Among the schools seeking new charter petitions are two from LA’s Promise that are recommended for denial: LA’s Promise Charter High School and LA’s Promise Charter Middle School. The district’s charter school division said the proposals for the new schools had “met the needs of all students.”
* Clarifies number of schools applying for new charters. Also adds that two resolutions regarding charters were postponed until January.