OUSD Board Watch

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January 26, 2012 At lot has transpired over the course of the last few OUSD Board meetings.

For starters, 5 of the 8 charter schools renewing this year have been approved. This group includes KIPP, Aspire Lionel Wilson Prep, Civicorps Academy, Unity High and ARISE. Congratulations to these 5 schools for working diligently to present their great work on the behalf of students and families and receiving approvals! That leaves 3 more schools left to renew: COVA, Oakland Charter Academy and American Indian II. As a reminder, CCSA strongly encourages members to submit their renewal petitions as early as possible so that there is plenty of time should an appeal be necessary.

Simultaneous to charter renewals, several new petitions have made their way to the OUSD Board for a determination hearing. On the positive side, 100 Black Men of the Bay Area received unanimous approval from the Board to open a K-12 academy for African American boys. From the tone of the hearing, it was very clear that this approval was momentous for all involved. District representatives expressed dismay that the District was not in a stronger position to formally partner with the petitioners instead of essentially leaving them no option but to "go charter."

The other three petitions that have come to OUSD are conversion petitions for three District schools: ASCEND, Learning Without Limits and Lazear. In each case, the school communities including parents, teachers and administrators have come together to forge a better path forward with the help of the CMO Education for Change. Lazear is one of the 5 schools slated for closure in June. ASCEND and LWL were incubated through OUSD's Small School Initiative, and were granted autonomies over staffing, budget, schedules and PD/curriculum at the time of opening. At the behest of the District, those autonomies are now going by the wayside and the two schools are determined to keep them by embracing the charter model. Two of the three schools have been denied by OUSD and the third one awaits a decision. EFC has appealed the denied petitions to Alameda County Office of Education and will know of their approval status as of March 13.

Finally, OUSD is gearing up to finalize the Facilities Master Plan that will go hand-in-hand with the recently adopted 5-year OUSD Strategic Plan. It is imperative that charter schools are included in the vision for facility use. This year's record of 21 Prop. 39 applications proves the incredible need that charter schools have for equitable facilities. At this time, the District is not showing signs that they are receptive to charter inclusion, which just means that there is more work to be done!