RVC - Temper Your Antagonism, Please?

As many of you may know, in Sept and Oct. of 2017, the charter went on a campaign to secure signatures for their "Intent to Enroll" (ITE) forms for the 2018/19 school year. These forms are the basis for the projected enrollment numbers used for RVC’s Prop 39 facilities request to RVSD.

Stand discovered that this “recruiting” included emails to private school parents asking for signatures on ITE forms, whether or not they intended to enroll their children at RVC. The email, from an RVC parent who is on RVC’s Leadership Council, specifically stated, "This is a legal hoop we have to jump through for space for next year."  Additionally, we know RVC representatives were regularly stationed at local (and not local) farmers’ markets and parks asking people to sign ITE forms for "more information," and making it clear it wasn’t a commitment to enroll.

Despite these dubious tactics, on 1/31/18 RVSD accepted the charter’s ITE-based forecast of 144 in-district students for the 2018/19 school year in good faith.  Based on this projection, RVSD offered six classrooms/teaching stations, which equates to approximately 24 students per class, the equivalent to district class sizes. RVSD also offered a reduction in the use of the Multi-Purpose Room, gym, outdoor space, etc. from 20% to 17% as RVC’s enrollment forecast is 45 fewer students than this school year.

On 2/16, the charter sent a threatening letter in response to RVSD’s offer. In this letter, the charter demanded that RVSD revise its offer by 2/21 and claimed they would take legal action -a circumvention of the legally binding timeline laid out in the Prop 39 law, which is the very law the charter themselves invoked.  On 2/17, after the demand letter was sent by RVC to the district, the charter had a special closed session board meeting, where the board voted unanimously to sue the district if they didn't get what they wanted by 2/21. 

On 2/21 RVSD replied to the charter’s demands, essentially saying that they would continue to follow the Prop 39 timeline and advised the charter to "temper its antagonism as litigation at this point is entirely premature."

On 2/23 the charter responded to the district, stating that they are well within their rights to sue because they believe RVSD is not providing enough classrooms to the charter. They closed this letter stating they would be sending their "formal" reply to RVSD's offer of six classrooms soon.

On 3/1, this time following the legally prescribed timeline, the charter sent its formal reply to the district demanding ten classrooms for their “projected” 144 in-district students.  Six classrooms for teaching stations and four classrooms for art, music, and specialized space. In the letter, they also requested the following: 

·      More allocated parking spaces, despite a lack of available parking at White Hill.

·      Upgraded outdoor lighting – None of the RVSD elementary schools have what would be deemed “upgraded lighting”. 

·      Better/mended fencing.

·      Shared use of the White Hill picnic tables, in addition to the picnic tables designated solely for the charter.  Will White Hill students, likewise, get to use the RVC tables and space?

·      And, more...

Recently a charter supporter (and former MAP board member) claimed in a social media post that RVC does not have to use the classrooms the way they are allocated.  Meaning, they can demand classrooms for art and music and use them instead as homerooms, likely to accommodate more out of district students. This despite the fact that Prop 39 law clearly states that district facilities allocated to the charter through Prop 39 are for IN-DISTRICT children only.

None of these actions – (illegally?) inflating enrollment projections in order to secure more space; demanding RVSD revise their offer, under threat of legal action and outside of the Prop 39 prescribed timeline; demanding classrooms for art and music for in-district students but then using the rooms to house out-of-district students - lead to a peaceful co-existence with RVSD. Nor is RVC being a good neighbor to their neighbor's children or to the teachers at White Hill, as they claim they wish to be.

If, in its negotiations, the district does offer more classrooms than the preliminary offer of six, will the charter still sue RVSD to get more classroom space for out-of-district students? Can the community trust that the charter will only ask for what it really needs to serve its in-district students, as the law prescribes?  Taking much-needed district classrooms and filling them with out-of-district kids is morally wrong and not the intention of Prop 39.  We join other voices in our community and ask RVC to do the right thing - take only what is needed for your in-district students.