Growth in Charter Schools

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August 19, 2011 As we head into the new school year we have several charter schools that have joined our community.

In San Diego Unified (SDUSD) we are adding, America's Finest Charter, which is a K-8 in City Heights. Approved last year but delayed due to facilities issues, are Old Town Academy, K-8, opening up a program in Old Town and Evangeline Robert's Institute for Learning (ERIL) K-5 program, at the Boys and Girls Club on Imperial. City Heights Prep, a middle school slated for the City Heights community was approved but has to delay opening due to facility issues.

In the county, we have several expansions and replications. High Tech High is expanding their High School program in Chula Vista to include an elementary and middle school, another charter, Gardner was also approved in Chula Vista but will also be on hold until next fall due to....... you guessed it, facility issues. Guajome Park in Vista, has expanded to include an Independent Study Program (IS) option for their students.

Diego Valley Public Charter, which has an IS program got another charter approved in Julian and finally Warner Springs added Warner i High, another IS option for students. We also have two new charters opening up in Orange County, which has been rare in Orange County, but both Oxford Prep. and Community Roots managed to get approved and will be opening up this fall. With all this growth be should be over 100 charter schools in SD county this year!!

So there are two trends we are seeing as you can gather from the above summary. First growth including new schools, expansion and replications are being hampered by lack of facilities. The problem is multifaceted and depends on whether you are looking for commercial or Prop. 39 solutions.

Commercial solutions are often difficult to find as property must be zoned for educational purposes, and then the building must also be up to code to house students. Often the process of tenant improvements (TI) or of securing a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) are time consuming and very costly.

As for Prop. 39 solutions, it depends on which district you are seeking facilities from, but often these agreements include sharing space with a traditional school or being handed down property that is less than desirable. We have made lots of progress with SDUSD and their Prop. 39 offers and we are seeing more new charters housed in district facilities.

The other trend you see is that Independent Study (IS) programs are on the rise. Not only are new IS programs developing but many charters are expanding to include Independent Study Programs as an option for students. It is all about choice and meeting diverse student needs and this often a good option for some students.

We have a publisher presenting their on line programs to the charter community at no cost on Wednesday, August 24th from 9-11 at O'Farrell Community School. RSVP to this event by emailing ca_reg@mcgraw-hill.com.

Lisa Berlanga
Regional Director