LAUSD examining why 24 charters operate split campuses
Mike Szymanski | January 12, 2016
The LA Unified school district is analyzing why certain charter schools operate on split campuses. In a report being presented to the school board at a meeting today, the staff found 24 charters using shared facilities on two traditional school sites, and one-third of them are divided among three sites.
Representatives of LA Unified charters are saying the number of charter schools sharing multiple sites has increased to 24 from 19 in just a year, a trend driving complaints from the state charter schools association.
“The district has failed year after year to try to find more classrooms for charter students so that schools can remain on one campus, and this trend is unacceptable,” said Phillipa L. Altman, the senior litigation counsel for the California Charter Schools Association. “This is a district with declining enrollment, and they are making statements without any clear transparency.”
The analysis is the district’s way to comply with requirements of Proposition 39, which allows charters access to available space in traditional schools. The district report explains why these 24 charter schools cannot be housed in one location, and the reasoning must be filed with the state.
Of the 211 independent charter schools operating within LA Unified, 95 have requested facilities under Proposition 39. The district said 148,697 students enrolled in charter schools this year, which is 5,722 more students than the previous year.
“It is very difficult to divide a campus to two sites, much less three sites,” said Laura J. McGowan-Robinson, the Senior Vice President for Regional Advocacy for CCSA, who also started her own charter school. “When you draft a budget, you do not plan on two or three sites. In that situation, you have to have more supervision and have an administrator at each site. You have split staff.”
Currently, eight charter schools are using classrooms at three locations.
For example, the Citizens of the World Mar Vista charter school is asking to move to extra space located at Webster Middle School. The charter school is legally allowed 20 teaching spaces, and it draws its students from 73 potential local schools.
The district says it has no available classrooms at Webster, but is offering rooms at three separate locations: Shenandoah Street Elementary School, Baldwin Hills Elementary School and Windsor Hills Elementary Magnet.
Last year, charter schools sought 101 facilities under Prop 39; this year, there were 96 requests.
McGowan-Robinson said, “Having schools split on different sites also open the schools up to safety issues, where one child has cross multiple streets, or teachers have to get in a car to travel from one place to another. Even if it is a few miles, in this city, it could be a real burden.”