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More Than 100 Barcelona Parents Bring Their Protest to School Board

Barcelona Hills in Mission Viejo is slated to be the site of the elementary school program for a new charter school opening in September.

Wearing their school color of navy blue, about 125 parents, teachers and supporters of continued Wednesday night their push to sway the district from its decision to house a new charter school at their campus.

Barcelona Hills mom Vivian Contreras was among the group of supporters who addressed the Capistrano Unified School board of trustees at its meeting Wednesday. She choked up as she explained that her greatest source of pride is that her children, in first and fourth grades, love their school.

“I see Barcelona as the diamond of Capistrano Unified,” Contreras said, describing a close-knit community of nurturing teachers. The school is a National Blue Ribbon school and California Distinguished School.

She said she has trouble understanding how a district that struggles to maintain its school—the community comes together to maintain and beautify the Barcelona campus—will now spend money to split the school in two.

“This is a classic lose-lose situation that sacrifices quality at both schools,” she said.

Because the subject was not part of the board’s agenda for the evening, the trustees could not speak on the matter. But district spokesman Marcus Walton later said Barcelona Hills remains Capo’s best choice for an elementary campus for Oxford Prepatory Academy.

Last week, Superintendent Joseph Farley announced at a Barcelona Hills PTA meeting that the Mission Viejo school would be sharing facilities with Oxford Preparatory Academy, a charter school set to open in September. The announcement in support of their school at morning drop-off and afternoon pickup times.

Despite the announcement, officials at Oxford say they have not yet signed any agreement with the school district. The charter school is asking that the district provide facilities free of charge under Proposition 39. It will operate a K-8 school, but the district is proposing that Barcelona Hills house only the elementary program.

One campus with two “destination schools” on a campus the size of Barcelona Hills makes no sense, said Laura Hess, a parent at Barcelona Hills and a former teacher with the district.

“The increased number of cars on our streets, through the intersections where our children cross in and out of the parking lot is of great concern,” Hess said.

Then there’s the matter of the campus not being big enough for two schools, especially when they will have to share the multipurpose room, music program and library, Hess said.

“The quality of educational opportunities by Barcelona students will be negatively impacted,” she said. “It will be impossible for Oxford to deliver on its promised education to its students. It will be disruptive to the surrounding community. This is not the right thing for either school.”

The district previously considered placing Oxford’s elementary programs on the same campus with Journey School, an existing charter that uses the former site of Foxborough Elementary in Aliso Viejo. Oxford’s middle schoolers were slated to share space at . those arrangements.

Parent Linda Shepard said Oxford will displace as many as 126 students who will be forced out of their neighborhood school.

“By bringing students from outside of this neighborhood, Oxford will be the driver that forces children in this neighborhood to attend other schools,” Shepard said.

At the beginning of the meeting, when the board members are free to make announcements about items not on the agenda, Trustee John Alpay announced that all seven board members decided to donate to Barcelona Hills’ beautification efforts.

After the meeting, he said the gesture was a “way to show support and to say thank you.”

orangeman May 05, 2011 at 08:59 PM
"A charter school must reside in the district in which the charter was approved." That is not a true statement. Go read the state law.
Capo Parent May 05, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Viejo Elementary since it is no longer a neighbor school, but rather, a program specific school, i.e. Spanish immersion. Move the Spanish immersion program to another school, e.g. Barcelona Hills. How many students will be at Viejo once the Spanish immersion program get's rid of the English component. I've heard (but not confirmed) that Viejo's facilities are in need of major help. OPA will provide the manpower and resources to fix up and spruce up Viejo.
OC Mom June 09, 2011 at 06:33 PM
I would love it if they'd consider Crown Valley Elementary, but that will also displace kids. Could the kids at Crown Valley be moved to Bergeson, Laguna niguel Elementary, Hidden Hills, Moulton etc. so that OPA could have a dedicated, non shared site?
shelly June 09, 2011 at 08:04 PM
OC Mom, Why should kids from an existing school have to move and have to drive to three or four different schools to accomodate kids who do not live in their neighborhood? Does that really seem fair to you? So if you have a kinder and a fourth grader at Crown Valley and have worked hard on the PTA and in the classroom for your school and you walk your kids to school you need to just pick up your roots and move on so that a new school can move on in. Is this what you consider fair? Journey is a charter school and they had to move several times and share a campus everytime. The parents worked with the existing community and their school community to make it happen. They did not believe that they were more important than the existing school or community. But still it is unfair to Barcelona. I would be very unhappy if this happened at one of my children's schools especially if the parents from the new school feel as if their new school is more important then the existing school.
Julie Flores June 09, 2011 at 09:38 PM
OPA was approved for the CAPO school district, not Saddleback. Saddleback denied OPA previously.

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