A new alternative program to come next school year

At last week’s board meeting, the San Lorenzo Valley School Unified District voted unanimously to deny a petition to form a new independent charter middle school.
“I am here representing the parents and kids in support of our petition,” said Nicky Ramos-Beban, executive director of Integrative Leadership Academy, in front of the board on March 7. “Our charter will be a benefit and will provide a much needed charter option.”
Ramos-Beban, along with parents/guardians and students, helped spearhead a petition to form an independent charter middle school. As a non-profit organization based in Boulder Creek, Integrative Leadership Academy is aimed at giving kids an education that prepares them to become self-actualized, life-long learners and leaders.
During a Feb. 7 SLVUSD board meeting the petition was formally submitted for review and board members heard two rounds of public comments.
According to SLVUSD School Superintendent Laurie Bruton, the district’s findings of the proposal showed the petition was deficient in meeting key requirements.
An attorney from the law office of Fagen, Friedman and Fulfrost, LLP spoke at the meeting on Wednesday evening on behalf of the district. She explained in summary, crucial factors as to why the petition was recommended to be denied.
According to the state’s education codes, in order for a petition to meet requirements it must contain signatures from at least half of the parents/guardians for the potential incoming class. In this instance, there needed to be at least 25 signatures from parents/guardians with students who will enroll in the charter school for sixth grade. The petition when submitted did not meet this requirement, according to the attorney.
However, during the meeting on Wednesday, Ramos-Beban presented to the board she had in the last 24 hours collected an additional 10 signatures from parents/guardians with students entering the sixth grade. But according to the attorney for the district, signatures cannot be submitted after the petition has been submitted for review.
Other findings for why the petition was recommended to be denied, included a concern of budgeting and financing. The proposed charter school would be heavily reliant on donor and grant funding.
“There are reasons to be concerned and it makes me feel like we are just not there yet,” said board member Laura Dolson. “We are not rubber stamping this denial, we have thought about it carefully.”
According to Ramos-Beban, “We are considering our next steps given the sustained interest and strong support for a new, small, public middle school in the Valley.  We intend to open the school that our community clearly desires and hope we can do so in partnership with SLVUSD.”
The next regularly scheduled board meeting for SLVUSD is March 21 at 6 p.m. at 325 Marion Avenue, Ben Lomond.

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