Four Charter Schools in One Night

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December 13, 2013 December 10 was a big night for four charter schools authorized by San Juan Unified School District. Vision in Education, Options for Youth, Choices Charter, and Golden Valley Charter School were on the board of education's agenda for a vote on the renewal of their charters.

This round of charter renewals was exceptional in a number of ways: A month earlier, each of the schools each made very brief presentations to the board at the same meeting. There were no questions from the five elected members. That might have been because the district staff had made their recommendation to renew each of the schools public the week before. A few interested parents and supporters from each of the schools were in the audience, but there would not be a long line to testify or formal presentations. It was very straight forward and collegial. In fact, last week, during their final hearing and vote, each school was on the consent agenda. They were all approved unanimously.

Afterwards, the school leaders celebrated, with some recalling that charter renewal had not always been so matter-of-fact in San Juan Unified. Three things seemed to have made this night possible: First, the San Juan charter leaders have been meeting together formally for two years. They share information and concerns, and address common issues. They talked about renewal early, and the district took notice. Second, each school leader has nurtured a positive and open working relationship with the district staff. They communicated about the expectations for charter renewal and developed charter documents that exceeded the district's bar. Finally, each of the charters submitted their petitions to the district in the early fall, allowing time for dialog and resolutions, before it went to the board.

Kudos to San Juan Unified for their partnership with San Juan Charter Leaders -- and congratulations to Visions in Education, Options for Youth, Choices, and Golden Valley Charter School!