23 Aug 2014
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Charter School Petitioners Opt to Back Off, Regroup

New target for proposed school opening is fall 2014 instead of this fall.

Charter School Petitioners Opt to Back Off, Regroup Charter School Petitioners Opt to Back Off, Regroup Charter School Petitioners Opt to Back Off, Regroup Charter School Petitioners Opt to Back Off, Regroup Charter School Petitioners Opt to Back Off, Regroup

Novato will continue to have just one public charter school for the time being.

 A proposed second one, following the mildly controversial Core Knowledge curriculum, won't open by fall 2013 now that the foundation seeking a new educational option for Novato families has decided to make tweaks to its petition and resubmit it to the school district later this year.

 The North Bay Educational Foundation announced at public meeting Tuesday night that it will focus on outreach efforts as it targets the 2014-15 school year rather than appeal the Novato Unified School District's petition denial in December.

In a statement, NBEF said it will "take the opportunity to strengthen and revise a few sections of the document, which will allow them to put forth a stronger budget scenario that reflects the passage of Prop 30 this past November. In the coming months, NBEF will continue to focus on the community outreach outlined in the current petition to insure that all members of the community understand the benefits of a Core Knowledge curriculum and the unique school structure that NBEF offers."

The foundation had the choice to appeal to the Marin County School Board or rework sections of the petition and resubmit it to NUSD. The NBEF said it believed its chances on appeal were strong, but fast-approaching deadlines were hampering a fall 2013 opening.

"We appreciate the enormity of the responsibility to educate children in Novato, and we will submit the petition to allow ample time to open the school strongly and successfully," NBEF founder Robert Verhoeff said.

While emphasizing that he and foundation leaders are not giving up, Verhoeff criticized the school board for voting unanimously to deny the charter petition. He said the majority of NBEF supporters believe the district's findings were arbitrary, inaccurate or contained no legal basis for denial.

As Verhoeff reiterated points he already made before the school board, NUSD Superintendent Shalee Cunningham sat at Tuesday's meeting at St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church and took occasional notes.
The one-year delay will allow for more communication and public education about Core Knowledge, Verhoeff said.

"We will continue to meet with the community so that all families understand that they are welcome at this open-enrollment public charter school," he said in the statement. "We invite all interested parents and community members to work with us and provide input to insure this school will best serve the needs of our children."

What's your reaction to this move? Share your comments below.

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