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Community Leaders Explore Clayton Valley Charter Option

Members of the community are considering having Clayton Valley High break away from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and become a charter school.

Community members are in preliminary discussions about turning Clayton Valley High into a charter school.

Since early March, parents, teachers, school administration and elected officials, — including Clayton Mayor David Shuey and Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister — have been discussing the possibility of transitioning Clayton Valley from a public school into a charter school.

"There's a lot of reasons, but the simple answer is finances," said Alison Bacigalupo, Clayton Valley Parent Faculty Club president, who says she is working on the charter effort as an individual, not as a PFC leader. "The state cuts this year and next are going to be much steeper than we originally thought and we are already in dire straits. As a charter school, we would get a higher (average daily attendance) rate."

A closed-door meeting between people interested in making Clayton Valley a charter and Mt. Diablo Unified School District Superintendent Steven Lawrence is scheduled for Monday.

For Clayton Valley to become a charter school, it would need a majority of CVHS teachers to approve the charter and also approval from MDUSD. If the school district doesn't grant approval, their decision can be appealed at the county and state levels, according to Bacigalupo.

If CVHS became a charter, it would be a conversion charter, the type of school created when an existing public school goes charter. CVHS would no longer be part of MDUSD and instead would follow its own guidelines (or "charter").

Like all charter schools, CVHS would still be a public school, receiving taxpayer money for funding. At some charter schools, enrollment is determined by a lottery, but students currently living in CVHS's attendance area could be enrolled in the school if they choose, Bacigalupo said.

The conversion charter school model is increasingly popular. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, 23 schools have converted to charter status with two more in the process.

School districts generally tend to resist charters because California districts receive money based on student enrollment.

Bacigalupo says she wants the charter school discussion to be transparent and plans to hold open forums with the community.

Mayor Shuey, a father of five, is taking a close look at the CVHS charter conversion and will be part of the group meeting with superintendent Lawrence on Monday.

"There should be a Q&A with the public where all the pros and cons can be discussed," Shuey said.

"As a father and mayor, I'm very intrigued by it," he said.

Clayton Valley principal Gary Swanson declined to comment for this story and a call to Lawrence at the district office was not immediately returned.

Linda April 09, 2011 at 05:57 AM
Mt. Diablo Flex Academy is also offering a charter alternative and has been approved to open a 6 -12 school. Almost 200 students have already applied. There will be an informational meeting next week. Pleasant Hill Wednesday, April 13 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM Winslow Center 2590 Pleasant Hill Road Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Shelly Doyle-Shuey April 09, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Did we lose two children? I'm Mayor Shuey's better half and the last time I checked, we had 5 children...
Wendy Roden April 09, 2011 at 03:02 PM
I was wondering about that too Shelly. You know the media doesn't always get it right....;)
Rick Happy April 09, 2011 at 03:19 PM
First Dan Ashley, now the Clayton Patch. This continuing disrespect of my main man Bennett must end!
Patrick Creaven (Editor) April 09, 2011 at 03:47 PM
My apologies Shelly. Fixed.
JoAnn Caspar April 09, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Terrific idea
Susan Schoell April 09, 2011 at 06:44 PM
How does one apply for Flex Academy? Has the location been decided upon?
Susan Schoell April 09, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Never mind...I just found the their website!!
Linda April 09, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Susan, Mark Kushner will talk more about the proposed location at the upcoming meeting on Wednesday.
anonamom April 09, 2011 at 08:35 PM
I find it a bit disconcerting that Concord City officials can be in on the discussion of perhaps converting a school to a Charter, but say they can have no say or influence on the outright Closing of Schools in their City, or the costs that will be incurred by the City due to those closures.
Peggy Spear April 10, 2011 at 03:01 AM
anonamom: It is curious that the Concord City Council took no stand when dealing with the school closures issue -- even just an advisory vote that not all the schools be in Concord, or something like that. Now, the mayor of Concord is exploring a charter issue. I don't believe in this separation of city/school district. They are interwoven so closely both entities must be involved in the decisions of both.
Linda April 10, 2011 at 07:16 AM
There should not be a division. I agree they should be involved in both decisions. Growth Within Bounds recommends aligning school districts with City boundaries for this very reason and numerous others.
terry walton smith April 11, 2011 at 04:03 AM
My son is in the engineering academy,and not in the CVHS boundaries would he be forced to leave his school he loves so much?
Jim April 12, 2011 at 03:43 PM
A terrific option to explore for Clayton Valley High. (Northgate HS parents take note!) And keeping things open and transparent is a good policy to follow.
Karen August 10, 2011 at 05:49 AM
Terry, The teachers who started the charter idea have stated that existing students who want to stay will stay. There will be a lottery for new students.

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