elevate the discussion

Charter school says they will sue RVSD if they don't get what they want

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THANK YOU to the community members who attended the prop 39 charter school board meeting last night.  

At the board meeting, charter leaders made it crystal clear that they will sue RVSD if they don't get what they want.

For those who were not able to attend, here is a brief recap:Prop 39 and enrollment: 

•   The charter discussed the prop 39 letter from RVSD.  Kristi Kimball stated that she thought it was “pretty shocking” that the district did not account for any specialized space.  The specialized space is what the charter is basing its space allocation argument on.

•   The board stated that that RVSD provides art and music.  The “District’s fingerprints are all over this. Those teachers are paid and tenured.” The charter is trying to prove that these specialized classrooms are provided to the student population by the district and should have been allocated or included in the space given.

•   The charter discussed the PRAs submitted to RVSD.  They only got 1/3 back of what they requested.  Conn Hickey said it will take another 2 weeks to get the additional info from  the PRA to come back from the district.

•   Mr. Hickey spoke about a letter that will be submitted to the district to ask for resolution as they are under a time crunch. If the district does not provide them additional classrooms, the litigious prop 39 charter, will once again, sue our school district. 

•   Comments made by the charter school leaders included, “We can’t wait” (referring to the back and forth legal Prop 39 steps deadlines) as “March is the time to enroll” and it is “not easy to get a court date”.   Mr. Hickey stated that he is “pretty confident that if it gets in front of a judge they will side with us”. 

•   It should be noted that the charter wants to sue in March, before final demand offers are due to be completed under the Prop 39 process. All because they see the urgency, and parents make decisions about schools in March. So once again, like when they were MAP, they are walking away from the process that they invoked, to go nuclear and file a lawsuit.  This is the same behavior exhibited by the charter leaders in 2014 when they walked away from mediation and filed for charter. 

•   The prop 39 charter stated that there are allegedly 25 TK/K students on the waitlist for this year (2017/2018) from WISE/Heartwood. They want to open the eighth classroom to accommodate this group. If the charter school adds the classroom and gets that attendance, the charter alleges that it will meet the 165 students per their original application and will avoid the material revision and fees due to the district.  However, this is not accurate. The fines are levied on low numbers of in district children, not the total number of children enrolled.  

•   Although the increased enrollment may allow the charter school to avoid a material revision, they are still required to revise the petition prior to allowing the founders/teachers and siblings to have priority.

•   RVC is confident that the July material revision will allow for the carve outs for siblings and children of staff/founders to occur.  There was further discussion about the sibling policy.  The majority of in district siblings will have priority, but not the out of district. 

•   Last night, rather than “hold seats’ for these illegally prioritized applicants, the charter board voted to reduce the number of seats available in the lottery.  This is a violation of the enrollment policies in the approved charter petition and the SBE should do their job and not allow RVC to enroll any children outside of the lottery process.

•   The return of the White Hill library was mentioned in passing. The agreement is in their hands for signature. But they are concerned that, should they add the 7th class - and maybe the 8th class - in this school year, that they will need all the space that is available to them. The internal battle is whether they make a sacrifice in space in 2017-2018 to create an advantage for the 2018-2019 school year.

Budget:

•   Once again, the charter board did not provide any update on its progress towards finding $250,000 in grant funding, with $150,000 needed in March. 

The definition of litigious is:

a : disputatious, contentious

b : prone to engage in lawsuits

 As it becomes clear that RVC will be suing RVSD if they don't get what they want, we thought we would remind our supporters of RVC's own words.

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 Ross Valley Charter will be suing our school district for the second time. The charter is certainly "prone to engage in lawsuits".

 

RVC's Trump Connections Part 1

We hear over and over again from RVC’s taxpayer-funded marketing materials and public statements, that they exist to provide a better education to English Language Learners (ELL), and low-income kids (FRL) than that which those kids could get in our public schools. In addition to being insulting to their colleagues in the Ross Valley School District (RVSD), and other districts (read how San Rafael fought off a charter with similar, dubious intentions), they also are papering over their history of discrimination and poor outcomes teaching English Language Arts (ELA) to ALL kids. This is the same group which maintained a discriminatory program (read the investigation report here), then had the lowest scores in the RVSD for teaching English, and now has very close ties to the Trump administration, which is anything but a champion for those (or any?) kids.

MAP's Language Arts scores were the lowest in the RVSD.

MAP's Language Arts scores were the lowest in the RVSD.

According to the RVSD’s November 2015 report on standardized tests, 85% of Manor "K-5" students met or exceeded the state standards with ten ELL kids, while only 70% of MAP’s 3-5th grade students met or exceeded standards with only one ELL. Clearly, Manor “K-5” was doing a much better job teaching language skills to all students, including ELL students.

Tune in for Part 2, in which RVC's Trump connection will be explained.

 

RVSD Encourages RVC to 'temper its overreach"

Thank you to the RVSD Board, Superintendent and Staff for the highly-detailed response sent out yesterday in response to RVC's request for facilities under Prop 39 for the 2018-19 school year. In it, the District spells out its "objections and concerns with RVC's data, assumptions, methodology, supporting documentation and related issues which render RVC's projections for in-district ADA for the 2018-19 school year unreasonable..."

Some salient points: 

·      The prop 39 charter vastly overstated its projected enrollment for 2017-18 school year. As we have seen, the charter estimated 215 total students, 189 in-district - but now claim only 105 in-district

·      The prop 39 charter's documentation does not support its projected enrollment growth estimates for the 2018-19 school year. The charter estimates a total of 172 students, 144 in-district. The District estimates just 97 in-district students. 

·      The prop 39 charter's Intent to Enroll (ITE) forms are not an accurate estimation of actual enrollment since "the data from the past school year demonstrates that only a fraction of the students... will actually attend the charter school as represented."

·      The prop 39 charter failed to support its in-district average daily attendance (ADA) by the Nov. 1 2017 deadline.

Please take the time to read the entire letter here. We appreciate the Board's diligence, thoroughness and the amount of time that went into this and are thankful for your strong leadership and commitment to all the children and teachers of the Ross Valley School District. 

 

Did you say ‘negative message’? Respectfully, we disagree.

The Families and Friends of Ross Valley Schools are committed to engaging the greater community in the ongoing open discussion regarding educational policy, both locally and nationally. We wear our orange with pride, and have carefully considered our initial STAND message, which is two fold:

  1. STAND! with your awesome neighborhood school- be it Brookside, Hidden Valley, Manor, Wade Thomas or White Hill. STAND with your exceptional teachers. STAND proudly with your friends. Our children are excited to feel the energy being created around a sense of pride in their community. Proud and happy looks great on them. We were invited to a competition, and the school spirit is rising!

  2. One of our goals is to support, advance and enhance outstanding truly public schools, whose noble aim is to serve the greatest number of students at the highest possible level for each of them, within the constraints of finite public resources. Thus, in keeping with this mission, we support the broad policy: ‘Go Public! Not Charter’

Our second message is clearly a matter of policy, not a judgment of the people who support or disagree with the policy itself. Most of us speak daily about issues regarding our government. There is no reason to abandon our commitment to honest free speech on this particular and relevant topic. Among the many principles with which we STAND, the First Amendment is near the top of the list.

Our current debate represents an opportunity for each of us to speak with our children about educational policy and perspectives. We might agree or disagree with, or be curious about, a particular policy position. STAND believes in the common good. We believe that children are able to understand the concept that supporting truly public schools--or not-- and explicitly opposing charter schools--or not--  is a point of view on policy, not individuals.

Let’s break it down: ‘Go Public!’ is a broad-based statement of support for our truly public schools. ‘Not Charter’ clarifies that STAND does not recognize charter schools as truly public. They have little transparency or local accountability, and are often for profit, or indebted to some heavy-muscle lobbying groups. Proponents of charter schools will say that public vs. charter is a difference without a distinction. Respectfully, and strongly, we disagree. The vocalization of this disagreement is a right that each and every one of us can celebrate. Our disagreement is not personal; it is a Civics lesson.

Let’s address the concerns expressed by one of Marin County’s four charter schools that STAND signs, which are not yet displayed, are upsetting their children. Parents have the opportunity to explain that our message is no different from one that says ‘Vote Democrat! Not Republican’. Would the President’s child take that party/policy affiliation as an attack on his/her family? Probably not. And if they did, there is no doubt that adults could explain it if they chose to. It is a party/policy position. We must never compromise our First Amendment Right- or our neighbor’s- to take a stand.

It is also unfair to make the assumption that the charter school’s children are the only children in the District who are upset. A great many of the District’s students are also upset, angry and hurt from the forthcoming disruption to their schools and teachers. They must be allowed to express their authentic feelings. We cannot hide reality from them, nor should we. We, as parents, can explain to them that the charter school chose to exercise Prop 39 to make this happen, and that no matter what, we will make it work. We can explain that the charter’s purpose was not to harm them. The charter simply took a policy position that exercising Prop 39 was a good idea. It is up to us to explain that this was not personal. We are looking at two sides of the same coin.

If your child has expressed some distress, we are confident you have the tools to assure them that not everyone supports the same causes in our community. Regardless of your personal position on this issue, we continue to STAND for respectful expression and conversation. STAND itself is a diverse group of individual community members. We recognize that not every STAND supporter will adhere to our mission statement. However, we have been heartened by the support and feeling of community which STAND has inspired. 

So while we are unhappy that any child in the district is sad or angry or concerned, we want to be clear that all of our children are experiencing these feelings as a direct result of the charter invoking Prop 39. Our ultimate message is a warm invitation to the charter students and teachers to return to Ross Valley Public Schools.  We want to do what is best for 100% of the children in our District. Our goal? Everyone send your children to our superb, truly public schools. We welcome you with open arms.

With this being stated, we again ask RVC to rescind their Prop 39 facilities request.  And if you would like to sign or view our petition in support of this request, it is available below.

Stating a policy preference, tacitly or openly, is an honored and protected right in this amazing nation. This is not the time for silence. Not now. Not ever.

 

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/request-to-ross-valley?source=c.em.mt&r_by=11553673

 

An Open Letter to the RVC Community

By Allison Waugh,
Mother of a Fourth Grader at Wade Thomas

As both a parent and a taxpayer, and with all my might, I’m asking Ross Valley Charter (RVC) to take pause and rethink your decision to open this Fall. I don't know when parents began using the entitled viewpoint that ADA (average daily attendance) is connected to a specific child and therefore, ADA should follow a child. I'd like to offer a different, and what I believe to be truer, understanding of ADA. ADA is community money. It is taxpayer money allocated to our community to educate our children. Yes, for logistical reasons, school money is supplied in per-pupil increments. But let's be honest here. That ADA is not my son's personal education fund. Nor is it your daughter’s personal education fund. It is community money. Plain and simple.

If you still think ADA should follow your child, then I ask you, “How far does this line of thinking go?” In each ADA allotment, there are funds set aside for special education. If a child has no need for these services, should his parents be allowed to have those funds go toward something else, leaving the pool of money for special education a bit smaller?

RVC, you are set to open in the Fall, crowding our 800+ middle school students into a space designed for 540 and shrinking our pool of district money by ~$250,000 in 2017-2018 and ~$500,000 each year after. I ask you, when do you take pause? You didn't when our community elected board said no. You didn't when Marin County’s board said no. Well now over 1300 members of your community have signed a petition saying no. So again, I ask, when will you pause and look back to your local schools to see if they can fill your educational needs, especially now that Manor has a pilot program for project-based learning. I remember when the head of my son's Waldorf school told me that no child can thrive in public school. Well you know what? For financial reasons, we decided to try our community school, and I'm so thankful we did. The fear that my son would lose his interest in learning and be stifled by worksheets and teaching to the test were unfounded. He and I both have great appreciation for the progressive elements within our public schools.

So before you create a very real threat to the health of our schools, please reconsider. Please rejoin our community and make our schools stronger with your energy and passion for education.