District Denies Charter Proposal

The Alameda Unified School District's Board of Education denied the request for a new charter school Tuesday night, based on the recommendation of the evaluation committee. The school board voted unanimously (5-0) to deny the charter proposal from Community Learning Center Schools, Inc., also known as NCLC, an outgrowth of the Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC).

The committee, made up of AUSD administrative staff and an outside consultant, evaluated the proposal in light of current law, board policy and the Model Charter School Application adopted by the California State Board of Education. The final guideline was the "Criteria for Denial" as outlined in the Charter Schools Act.

According to the committee's written evaluation, "With all due respect to the ACLC staff that authored the charter proposal, it quickly became apparent that the NCLC charter proposal was seriously deficient."

"Obviously we were disappointed," said Paul Bentz, CEO of NCLC and development director for ACLC. "We'll be looking into appealing the decision to the county board of education."

Board member Mike McMahon agreed with other board members that the proposal relied too much on its success at ACLC "when, in fact, it has to stand on its own two feet (as) a document of accountability on how you plan to run your school." The charter's own success at ACLC "sort of shot them in the foot," he said.

The board meeting ran late with many speakers on hand to share their views. Both sides were about evenly represented. Letters to McMahon's Web site were split 5-4 in favor of the charter.

One of the issues at hand, according to the committee's evaluation, was "insufficient detail regarding the proposed K-5 program. At the public hearing, it was stated that, 'We will develop the program...it will be in place next year.' This does not provide a reasonably comprehensive description of the educational program of the school." Other issues concerning underrepresented students, governance and oversight of the school, facilities and a lack of sufficient signatures were also cited.

However, long-term, McMahon said the board's decision Tuesday night was only "delaying the inevitable" about charter schools on the Island. "We get the point related to school choice" in the district, said McMahon. "The challenge is providing that choice."

Read the full text of the evaluation online at www.mikemcmahon.info/NeaRecommendation.pdf


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