Capo Unified May Close a School

Three charter campuses want access to school district classrooms, putting the squeeze on space. Staffers say CUSD will have to shut down an existing school or relocate a large number of students.

school officials will need to close a campus or relocate a large number of students next year to accommodate three charter schools that want access to district classrooms.

In addition to Oxford Preparatory Academy, a K-8 school that currently shares space with with  in Mission Viejo, the district has received requests from two other charters,  and Journey School, for free access to school district facilities.

Under voter-approved Proposition 39, school districts must make classrooms available to charters that serve district students.

Charter schools are public schools. The vast majority of students at these campuses come from other Capo Unified schools.

Oxford is pushing to , but even if the request is rejected, the district may be forced to close a school, according to a staff report to be discussed at Wednesday’s Capistrano Unified school board meeting.

“Oxford Preparatory Academy’s eligibility for facilities remains an issue and they are entitled to receive facilities under Proposition 39 regardless of the outcome” of the leadership’s request to expand from 628 to 772 students, says a staff report on where to house Oxford students next year.

“The need to close a school or relocate a portion of a school will be the case under either enrollment scenario,” the report states.

The report does not make clear whether Barcelona Hills might be the school to close. And a spokesman for Capo Unified declined to answer Patch's questions about the matter.

District staff is recommending against Oxford’s plan to increase enrollment. In a 10-page report, it derided the charter school bid for lacking teacher signatures and analysis of facilities, staffing or finances. It also notes that it is too early to determine whether the school offers a successful educational model.

The report is peppered with repeated variations on the words “concerned” (14 mentions), “unlikely” (nine mentions) and “fail” (also nine mentions).

But even if the school board agrees and rejects expansion at Oxford, the charter school has the right to enroll an average daily attendance of 501 students. This would be more than the number of students who attend the charter school today, as Oxford voluntarily reduced enrollment last year to .

When the school board approved the campus-share configuration in June, it envisioned the charter occupying 13 classrooms. Wednesday’s report says Oxford will use 21 classrooms if the expansion request is approved, and 17 if it is not.

However, maps attached to the report conflict with those numbers. They show Oxford using 25 classrooms if the charter is allowed to expand, leaving just two classrooms. If trustees reject the expansion, the maps show Oxford taking up 21 classrooms, leaving six classrooms for other district uses.

Although the district has the right to split Oxford into two schools -- elementary and middle -- staffers have chosen to keep the K-8 model Oxford requested. And although the charter’s first months “,” staff recommends Oxford remain at Barcelona Hills.

The school board meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at district headquarters, 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano.

MayMom January 25, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Children are not randomly placed in a classroom. Staff works very hard to place a student in the classroom best fit for them. I have three children in CUSD and couldn't be happier. Journey school already has a closed CUSD campus. I will keep my kids right where they are. They have fantastic teachers!!!!! A huge part of a childs success is also based on the amount of time that a parent helps. Understandably not everybody has the time to volunteer at school, but there are plenty of at home things they can also do.
MV Mom January 25, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Sue Roche, head of OPA, has over 32 years of experience in education, including over 20 years as a very successful public school principal, with her schools all top performing. OPA-Chino scored an outstanding 957 API during it's inaugural year last year. This is higher than every single school in the entire San Bernardino County & every single school in CUSD. The same proven curriculum is offered at OPA here in South Orange County. OPA's educational model is not only proven, it is extremely successful. Parents want choice in their child's public education. Over the past 2 decades, CUSD has changed boundaries, reassigned home schools, & closed a school. All occurred with public outcry, picketing, & more. But, the families & neighborhoods reassigned to a new school (kicked out of their previous beloved school) made the best of it & moved on. A few examples: Many Wood Canyon families were reassigned to Oak Grove in 1996 (these families didn't want to be kicked out of Wood Canyon - they loved their neighborhood school, teachers, principal, families, PTA, etc.), but they had no choice, made the best of it, & moved on. In the mid 1990's, all Newhart elementary students were forced to go to Reilly, & Stoneridge homes (across the street) were assigned to Barcelona (3 miles away). All MV Tesoro families were reassigned to CVHS in 2006. Their old assigned school was closed to them.
MV Mom January 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM
In 2007, Foxborough, a close knit family school, was closed and Journey is there now -  2 low enrollment schools (Foxborough had 388 & Wood Canyon had 362 at the time) were combined.  It's not pleasant to experience this, but families & more importantly students have made the best out of it. CUSD has many families interested in charter schools, & Prop 39 supports charter growth. The taxpayer ADA funds follow the student to the charter, after CUSD takes a portion off the top.  Parents that prefer traditional public education have dozens of outstanding schools in CUSD to attend (assigned or Open Enrollment).    For those who don't know about OPA, which has a different curriculum than Journey, their website is www.SOC.OPAcharterschools.com.   Whatever the board decides to do, families will make the best of it.  We are very fortunate that CUSD has approved so many different choices for it's students.  Thank you CUSD!  
MV Mom January 25, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Hopefully, this same board that approved OPA 7-0 last year and chose to put OPA on the shared site recognizes the need for more classroom space by OPA with over 1650+ Intent to Enroll Forms filled out in just a 2 week period for next school year.  If CUSD had information or a link on their website to OPA as they do for the new California Preparatory Academy High School, the number of interested in attending OPA would be much higher.  Unfortunately, the same interest in attending BHE is not occurring with its current enrollment down to about 200, and the 200+ families who chose to leave (now at Castile, Reilly, OPA, private, or homeschool) are happy with their new "home" school and have expressed no interest in returning to BHE.  This is very sad for BHE families, as the other CUSD families who were negatively impacted over the years with changes in assigned or shared school sites. Hope that whatever is decided, that healing can occur. The enrollment numbers, waiting list, and space requested by Journey and Community Roots Charter School shows more CUSD families wanting a different educational path for their child.  Charter Schools are definitely filling a need in this school district and country, with the controversy of this choice and it's impact on other schools being well debated.
Tamara January 25, 2012 at 05:42 PM
OPA has been amazing for our family, I hope more families will be able to experience OPA as an educational choice for their children. The only bad situation that was created was the share a campus with an existing school. I actually feel that the surrounding neighbors have suffered the most with an additional 600 plus cars that have to all arrive at 8 and leave at 3. What bad planning to put a school on the top of a hill smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood. OPA has such a large interest for current enrollment, and I only see it expanding as the test results prove what a successful curriculum and educational model they use to educate the variety of learners that attend OPA. I'm sure this need for a new campus and a larger facility will become evident to the district and they will make the right decision to move OPA, keep BHE open and bring back the sanity and tranquility that the surrounding neighbors knew before OPA arrived. What a terrible decision to put a freight train in a two car garage!!!
OC Mom January 25, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Unfortunately, Community Roots is only K-2 with 100 students at this time. I think a lot of parents would be interested in that school also if it was a full K-8 school with its own site. Slowly, but surely parents are being given choices in CUSD. Oxford and Community Roots are highly academic schools and are fully engaging the children. I hope that they both will have continued success.
Amanda January 25, 2012 at 08:38 PM
There is no exclusivity as far as going to a Charter School. In fact, upon even mentioning my son go to one it was deemed a very unpopular decision among my peers. As parents we all want different things for our children and charter schools give us the ability to want something different. It doesn't make it right or wrong. All charter schools are different, so taking a stab at what you think Oxford is like based on visiting another school is silly. Let's just be real, the only problem is that the district made a bad decisions when deciding to put Oxford in a shared campus with Barcelona. It was an awful, poorly planned decision. Now they need to figure out what the right thing to do is and stop making this issue about Charter vs. regular school or Oxford vs. Barcelona.
Capo mom January 25, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Don't hold your breath Amanda. In days past this is the kind of issue that could be resolved at the district level. These days, since the union is opposed to charter schools and the union controls the board of trustees and by extension superintendent Farley, resolution at the district level is impossible. And also, thanks to measure H, the only trustee who is politically accountable for BH is Lynn Hatton. She won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.
ChangeforCUSD January 25, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Capo Mom and friends The assertions that the "union controls the board of trustees and by extension Superintendent Farley" is completely false and without any merit. Every time someone asks you to back up this statement you avoid the question. The union does NOT control the current CUSD board of trustees. If you actually took the time to know Lynn Hatton or Gary Pritchard (which are the ONLY two members of a seven member board that took union support in their last elections) you would know how off based your comments are. It really is time for all of us: homeowners, parents, teachers, voters to stop the name calling and "union bashing" and deal with the real economic realities of the current situation. Every time Capo Mom or similar posters use the words "union board" or similar fiction they lose all credibility on this subject. There is an agenda hidden in these comments and that agenda is anti-public education and pro-vouchers. The "charters" are only a bridge subject. Thank you Penny for doing your best to bring both sides’ opinions forward for public discussions. I am not a union member or union supporter. I support public education and I oppose taking public and tax payer money and using to advance private schools.
LJane January 25, 2012 at 10:44 PM
The union controls the board? Not the parents? If true, that is absolutely outrageous. It is time for parents to stand up and start reasserting control over the education of their own children.
Capo Parent January 26, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Hatton, Alpay, Pritchard and Brick (who has a daughter who is a CUSD teacher & who appears to be suffering from dementia & votes as he is told) have given back millions to the unions, some of the money without a vote, while CUSD borrows $105 million and has to cut $27 million even if the Brown tax hikes pass. Under their watch, the % of CUSD's budget that is devoted to salaries & benefits has grown to an all time high of 92%. At the rate they are going salaries & benefits will compromise 100% of the budget. Acts speak louder than words, and their actions scream union first.
Pam Sunderman January 26, 2012 at 05:02 AM
LJane, don't worry about the anonymous blogs here that claim union involvement. Please note that they refuse to answer direct questions asking for any evidence of union support in the last election for the majority of the board. Capo Parent is now resorting to ridiculous, unkind, and appalling charges of dementia against a man he probably voted for. The voters control the board through elections and they spoke loud and clear in the last election by voting out two board members based on their irresponsible actions while in office. The issues faced by CUSD are the same as those faced by every school district in the state and have nothing to do with unions and everything to do with lost revenues due to the financial crisis.
Victoria January 26, 2012 at 05:03 AM
This article says that charter schools get free access to facilities. This is untrue. The charter schools under this proposition pay the District rent, providing income to the District, particularly where facilities are under-utilized. Charter schools are not forcing schools to close, as the District must consolidate schools where enrollment is too low to justify the District's operation of those schools. It will be interesting to see if this particular charter school will justify it's claimed need for additional space and its expansion
Tamara January 26, 2012 at 04:14 PM
What relief, issue was solved in an unforgettable 2 1/2 hr district meeting last night, wow is all I have to say. It's sad though that they decided to move BHE students instead of moving OPA to a new campus. I feel for the surrounding neighbors and my condolences to the parents that have to leave their home school and transfer next year. Just remember where the blame falls and know that OPA did its best to make the best out of the terrible decision which was to share. Good luck to all families with their future educational choices and may all children flourish in CAPOUSD! Lastly if you havn't taken the time to see "Race To Nowhere" google it and get to the next screening. :)
Penny Arévalo January 26, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Thanks for the segue, Tamara. The story of last night's meeting can be found here: http://patch.com/A-qzqV
Kathleen K January 26, 2012 at 05:17 PM
So my originally question seems to have been answered by parents and perhaps administrators or teachers at a Charter School. I can see that there are strong emotions on this topic and I don't want to get into the politics here, but I do want to ask, why wouldn't Capo put time and effort into changing their curriculum to reflect some of the characteristics of the Charter programs so they can retain more students?
David Worsley January 26, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Kathleen, I think the answer to your question depends on the views of those who you ask. For example, I have reason to believe that the curriculum and teaching methods being used by OPA are not significantly different than those used by my child's school and teachers. So, for me, I see no great value in this particular charter school. That's not too say that there aren't charter schools that do offer a significantly different experience. But, like most things, you need to personally evaluate a charter school on a case by case basis to see whether or not moving your child there would be a benefit over your current situation. There is nothing magic or mystical about charter schools. They are merely another option, as is any other alternate to your public school. And, as the saying goes, your mileage may vary so you have to be diligent.
Penny Arévalo January 26, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Kathleen, the school district is doing a number of things to offer different programs (and also shift enrollment around). Current examples are the IB program at Hankey, the Two-Way Spanish Immersion program in three elementaries, two middle schools and two high schools and the new Mandarin Chinese immersion program to start next year. Also, this article Adam wrote Tuesday night says the district is devising a magnet program http://patch.com/A-qxFg
Capo Parent January 26, 2012 at 06:42 PM
JG You're being dishonest. The fact that Brick has some illness that affects his memory is obvious. That is why he didn't run one meeting while he was board president. Did you forget Brick's seconding of the stunt motion by Alpay. I don't hold it against Brick, it's not his fault. However, for you and others to deny what is obvious is absurd. The simple fact is that Brick shouldn't be on the board. The unions in CUSD are the most politically active of any unions in the surronding school districts. One only has to look at what they did with regard to the strike and the last elections to see that. Further, while other school districts have financial problems, CUSD takes the cake. SVUSD, a school district that is 1/3 to 1/2 the size of CUSD that also has a district wide declining enrollment, has already closed several schools to deal with its budget deficit. CUSD finally decided to close one school notwithstanding its declining enrollment district wide, its lack of money and its need to cut roughly $27 million while restoring millions to the unions which has pushed up the % of the budget devoted to salaries and benefits to an all time high of 92%. Maybe that's why the auditor for CUSD stated at the meeting last night that it has serious concerns about CUSD's ability to pay its bills.
RSM Dad January 26, 2012 at 07:08 PM
The union's day of reckoning is closer. Not just the teachers but all of the bargaining units. Jollygirl can live in a state of protectionist denial all she wants, but the inevitable will occur. She reminds me of the sheep being led to the slaughter.
Kathleen K January 26, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Thank you both for your courtesy responses to my questions. I was almost afraid to ask, given the level of emotions on this topic.
Pam Sunderman January 26, 2012 at 07:26 PM
RSM Dad you are mistaken. Tenure protects a teacher with due process procedures. Unions represent teachers in those procedures. They do not prevent bad teachers from being fired. They simply make sure it is done fairly. Teachers in a charter have the same right to due process as any other teacher. They can also opt to be part of a union. There is plenty of accountability in every classroom. If you have a specific complaint about a teacher you have every right to voice that complaint with the teacher, the site administration, and the district. However you will have to be more specific than complaining that the teacher is "bad." I encourage you to come forward at your child's school.
Pam Sunderman January 26, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Capo Mom, The union does not control the school board. If you have proof of any undue influence by the union on any school board member please share that with the readers here. You continue to make this false claim with no evidence to back it up while ignoring requests to do so. CUEA endorsed 2 current board members in the last election. They also endorsed Ms. Addonizio when she ran several years ago. However, endorsing a candidate is not illegal or unethical and is not evidence of undue influence. This board acts more independently than any in the last several decades. In one sentence you say that unions are against charter schools. In the next you accuse the board of capitulating to the union...a board that voted 7-0 to approve the OPA charter. Several other charters have been operating in CUSD for years. I am a union member. I am not against charter schools. Charters meet the needs of some families. They are no better, or worse, than any other school simply on the basis of being a charter.
Pam Sunderman January 26, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Capo Parent, I have no knowledge of any medical records of any of the board members and neither do you. Making a medical diagnosis of any kind against someone simply because you do not agree with them is appalling. You are entitled to your opinion but this is crossing the line. Penny I think this type of behavior should be discouraged on these boards. It is worse than any personal attack I have read.
Pam Sunderman January 26, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Kathleen, I think David Worsley said it very well. I would like to add that the pedagogy involving the use of individual learning styles, gifts, and modes of students has been part of the teaching arsenal of CUSD for decades. I am truly sorry that the students and parents of Barcelona and OPA have suffered during this transition. Barcelona has been a wonderful school in every sense of the word. They deserved better.
shelly January 27, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Capo Parent, Brick ran against union endorsed candidates. He was not supported or endorsed by the union. There are 4 current trustees who were on the former board. They ran as "Reform" Trustees. They ran and campaigned together. These are Trustees Addonizio, Bryson, Brick and Palazzo. They ran against union endorsed candidates. The vote for closing BH was 6 to 1 correct. Currently there is a mixed board of varying opinons and support. This is always a good thing.
Penny Arévalo January 27, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Sorry JG, but publicly elected officials are open to more scrutiny and attacks than a private citizen commenting here. They know they'e fair game when they throw their hat into the ring and run for office.
Pam Sunderman January 27, 2012 at 04:54 PM
People who post anonymously also have an obligation (moral and ethical) to refrain from making such hurtful and unsubstantiated claims against someone, no matter how public a figure they are. I would hope that this would be as important to your editorial board (or whoever makes the rules for posting) as making sure we all refrain from personal attacks against each other. Posting on these boards open us up to the occasional personal attack. Some are more objectionable than others but most personal attacks are more a reflection on the writer than the receiver. Are there no limits at all? What is Mr. Brick to do about people spreading false rumors on your site?
Penny Arévalo January 27, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I've emailed him several times on this issue, but he has never written back. He has the dais from which he can speak but never does (in all the agenda items the board has discussed in the 1 1/2 years I've been covering CUSD, he has only voiced an opinion or asked a question two times that I can remember). He has a press willing to interview him. He has the ability to tap the expertise of the district's spokesman. As an elected official, he has much more ability to defend, clarify and address the public than a private citizen. He chooses not to.
Pipes January 06, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Brick's grand daughter went to Journey School and he voted to keep her low test scoring and low enrollment charter school on the largest campus CUSD had to offer at the time. Hmmm...just a coincidence?


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