Jul 28, 2014
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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 Leaders Explore Clayton Valley Charter Option

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.

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