Zimmer Seeking State Help with Charter Co-location Rules
Vanessa Romo | September 9, 2013
An emotionally-charged debate erupted at the last school board meeting over the co-location of a charter on the campus of an elementary school in Boyle Heights.
Parents of public school students at Lorena Street Elementary School were furious that the school was forced to relinquish space to accommodate Extera 2, a charter school, because of Proposition 39 – a law approved in 2000 requiring districts to share unused facilities with independent schools.
Fed up with the “constant battle over the co-location issue,” school board member Steve Zimmer responded by drafting a resolution, which will be taken up at the board meeting tomorrow, to persuade state lawmakers to create guidelines for applying the law.
“It’s time to reexamine the implications of Prop. 39,” Zimmer told LA School Report. “I want the people who know best to tell us what we can do. What can the legislature do? What can the State Superintendent do? What can the state board of education do?”
In short, Zimmer said, he wants to know, “What are the different avenues that we can pursue for relief that are not courts of law?”
The district is in a legal fight with the California Charter Schools Association over the funding formula used to allocate space for charters. The CCSA wants to use a model that gives them one classroom at a ration of 15 to 1, while traditional LA Unified public schools often range between 24-to-1 and 30-to-1. The charter school formula also divides enrollment by the total number of classroom facilities on a campus, including parent centers, preschool classrooms and even storage rooms.
Zimmer hopes new guidelines will exclude certain non-instructional spaces from the charter school formula. Spaces such as parent centers, computer labs, and libraries should be totally off-limits, he said.
“Prop. 39 was designed to create opportunities for charter schools,” he said. “It was not designed to punish parents of children who choose to remain in neighborhood public schools.”
A second piece of Zimmer’s plan is to block charter school operators from recruiting potential students on public school grounds. Zimmer said charter schools should follow the same guidelines around solicitation as all other vendors.
“We should solidify that you can’t do it on campus and you shouldn’t do it at the school house gate,” Zimmer said. “Schools shouldn’t have to be under siege that way.”
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