Monday, July 11, 2016

Julian charters paved way for others |

Julian charters paved way for others |

Julian charter schools at center of storm

Tiny district that paved way for charter boom faces lawsuit from other districts

Big Education Ape: California: The Charter Game is Rigged | Diane Ravitch's blog -

Back in 1870, Julian opened a one-room school house for the children of miners and farmers who settled in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Today, the two-campus district has reinvented itself with money-generating charter schools that enroll thousands of students living far beyond its rural boundaries.
The Julian Union School District educates little more than 300 local students from the community widely known as apple country. Nearly 4,000 additional students from throughout the region attend classes and work with teachers in dozens of storefront schools operated by three independent charters it authorized.
The arrangement has brought millions of dollars in charter revenue to the tiny district since 1999. Since then, the district has held only one school board election. With so few children enrolled in schools, it’s tough to motivate anyone to run for office, leaving incumbents to serve for decades and successors named by appointment.
Julian’s independent-study programs have grown with the help of technology advancements, and as more families seek an alternative to their neighborhood school.
Kimberly Famolaro of Allied Gardens started enrolling her children in Julian Charter after first trying traditional schools, a Catholic school and home-schooling.
“I wanted to be very involved in my kids’ education. The program has evolved over the years, but my teacher has always been my teammate and gotten to know all of my kids,” said Famolaro, who has nine children, including a recent graduate of University of Redlands and a student at UC San Diego. “We are held accountable. I have to keep learning logs, record what they do everyday.”
Julian is now under fire for its charter schools. Two districts — San Diego Unified and Grossmont Union — that have lost students and state attendance revenue to the charters are suing Julian and two of its charters that they say violate the law by operating centers in their boundaries.
Among the issues raised in the lawsuit is whether Julian’s charters can legally populate the county with satellite campuses, or “resource centers,” in other districts without first notifying them and providing an address and information about the facilities they plan on using.
Following Julian’s lead, dozens of far-flung charters and resource centers have been authorized by other small East County districts, including some that candidly acknowledged the arrangements were forged mostly for the money. The practice has pitted districts against one another and spurred costly litigation.
Districts can receive up to 3 percent of a charter’s revenue to offset the cost of providing oversight and other services. In the 2014-15 school year, Julian took in $787,887 in revenue from charter schools. The district’s total revenue that year was $6.2 million.
Sarah Sutherland, an attorney representing Grossmont and San Diego Unified, said some of the earliest Julian charters paved way for others |

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