Two Charters ‘Approved’ for Taylor Yard High

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

After a marathon session with fewer surprises than the first round of Public School Choice —thanks to the early release of Superintendent Ramon Cortines’ recommendations last week—the Los Angeles Unified School District School Board on Tuesday sealed the fate for some new schools and focus schools currently being processed under the district’s in house reform.

About half the applicants for the 27 schools, located at 10 campuses across the district, were approved with reservations, and must resubmit their proposals for further review by April 25. For the most part, the school board agreed with most of Cortines’ recommendations.

Among the plans approved are 12 pilot schools, seven charters, three traditional schools, two expanded school-based management model (ESBMM) schools, and one network partner. Two schools, Mann Middle School and East LA Star Academy, did not have an applicant approved.

“There are many routes to academic success, and we must learn from the promising practices in the highest achieving schools to help low-performing schools that are facing challenges and in fact, to expand opportunities for all students,” Cortines said in a written statement. “The goal of this District is to provide multiple options for students, for their parents and guardians. The Public School Choice reform initiative is one way to provide numerous opportunities for students to excel.”

Central Region High School #13, also known as Taylor Yard High School, in Glassell Park will have three pilot schools and two charter schools at the five-school campus. Alliance for College Ready Public Schools was the only applicant that was approved without reservations and will not have to resubmit their proposal.

Partnership to Uplift Communities, also a charter, was approved with reservations, as were The Los Angeles River School, School of History and Dramatic Arts, and ARTLAB Arts and Community Empowerment. The schools must address the areas of concerns cited by Cortines and resubmit their proposals by the April 25 deadline for final approval.

A sixth applicant, The School of Technology, Business & Education was the only applicant not recommended by Cortines or approved by the board. An amendment proposed by board member Steve Zimmer to allow all the Central High applicants to resubmit their proposals failed.

Responding to Zimmer, Cortines said he did not reject the school of technology’s proposal, but decided in favor of the other schools. Board President Monica Garcia suggested the applicant’s proposal could be resubmitted for another campus.

The only proposal for East LA Star Academy, submitted by a team led by Local District #5, was rejected. Proposals submitted by other local district-led teams, 1, 2, 4 and 8 did make the grade.

The board approved Board Member Yolie Flores’ motion to open East LA Star up to other applicants; plans must by submitted by the April 25 deadline.

Dozens of parents, community members, teachers and applicant team members spoke during the Public Comment period. The board enforced the two-minute time limit, cutting off some speakers like Ceci Dominguez who spoke in favor of ARTLAB and Veronica Ramirez who was about to speak in favor of the East LA Star’s community and teacher-led proposal.

Ramirez, a mother and East LA resident, had typed up her comments to read to the board. She told EGP she was going to support points made by teachers who spoke before her and to thank the board for their support.

“Being a person who likes to be active in my community, who likes when parents are informed and who wants there to be as much transparency as possible, I felt like my hands were tied,” Ramirez said, noting she felt the local district did not provide as much support for writing the proposal as they would have liked.

The Public School Choice reform was approved by the Los Angeles Board of Education in 2009 to encourages nonprofit education-based groups, charter schools and collaborative teams of educators to compete to present the best proposal for existing low-performing schools, identified as “focus schools,” and for newly-constructed campuses.

The comprehensive application and selection process includes informational meetings; advisory votes; an evaluation by the superintendent’s review panel; individual evaluations and recommendations by Cortines; and a final deciding vote by the Board of Education.

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March 17, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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