New Charter School to Cost Capo $1.1M Yearly

The school board approved Oxford Preparatory Academy Tuesday night.

Another charter school in the Capistrano Unified School District—set to open in September—was approved by the school board Tuesday night, with Trustee Gary Pritchard saying Oxford Preparatory Academy’s application “represents a wake-up call” to the district.

Oxford will teach kids in a variety of ways to appeal to their “multiple intelligences,” presenting competition to traditional public-school offerings, trustees said. 

The school district has estimated that the charter school will attract at least 500 students from Capo schools, and along with them, about $900,000 in revenue annually. In addition, there will be $200,000 in expenditures each year to support the school and a onetime expense of $500,000 for the physical needs of the school.

But Oxford met every requirement California's educational code requires of charter schools, so the trustees were legally bound to approve it, said Julie Hatchel, assistant superintendent of education services.

“The law is very friendly toward charters,” Superintendent Joseph Farley said. “We can all coexist in this region.”

Oxford's educational model is based on the theory by Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist at Harvard University, that children learn in eight different ways, although most traditional education focuses on only two: logical and linguistic.

Tuesday's approval did not include details about where the school will be located. Under state law, the location is handled in a separate item, but Oxford officials have already said they are in and around Aliso Viejo.

In approving the charter, Trustee Lynn Hatton said the district does provide some of the techniques Oxford offers but should do a better job in explaining that, she said.

“Marketing is about telling a story that resonates with people,” she said, reading from a prepared statement. “Obviously we haven’t done a good job in telling our story.”

Oxford opened a kindergarten-through-eighth-grade campus in Chino in September. Many of the trustees visited the campus before their unanimous vote to approve Oxford’s Capistrano application.

Hatton noted that the district expects results from Oxford. “We set the bar really high, and I look forward to your success and the competition that will ensue following this,” she said.

No Choice, No Freedom June 01, 2011 at 04:27 AM
I am not referring to the article. I am referring to your lead sentence, which is provocative and biased. Don't play games.
Penny Arévalo June 01, 2011 at 04:44 AM
My "lead sentence" in a two-sentence comment underneath a story? The only provocation I'm seeking is to provoke the Patch audience to read more stories. ;-)
Jenna Chandler June 01, 2011 at 05:41 AM
Shripathi, I'm dying to know how Penny caused the large budget deficit in California ... surely you must be kidding!
OC Mom June 01, 2011 at 06:21 AM
I'm replying about Jollygirls comment about my earlier comment which was in response to others comments about ELL and Special Education students being included in OPA. I pointed out just like another reader that one of the meetings was held at a primarily hispanic school. I pointed this out to prove that those students had the opportunity to enroll just as much as anyone else by having the meeting at their school. I actually thought that it was a very nice campus much nicer than the one that my own children attend. Jolly, you want to quench any competition that might threaten your high wages and future pension. You are threatened by this school and that is why you comment on all of these articles. I'm so glad that the public is finally waking up to the truth about CA's schools and demanding choice and reform. The rest of my comment was meant to defend OPA from the comment that it's costing the District a lot of money to pay for a facility for OPA. I did this by pointing out that the schooling of illegal immigrant children is costing our State millions if not billions. Jolly needs to take that up with her State and Federal representatives rather than preventing parents in CUSD from having a choice in their children's education. You can tell how many students are on free lunch and how many students are ELL at each school by looking at www.greatschools.net.
Rebecca Goddard June 01, 2011 at 01:09 PM
Thank you for being the voice of reason.
Julie Flores June 01, 2011 at 01:40 PM
OC Mom, why were you dismayed to see a mass of Hispanic students?
Julie Flores June 01, 2011 at 01:41 PM
He is kidding.
Julie Flores June 01, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Just a question. Do you assume that because these children that you saw are Hispanic they must therefore be illegal? Not trying to put words in hour mouth, I just want to clarify?
Capo Parent June 01, 2011 at 03:14 PM
OPA scares the poop out of the teachers' union and its allies. It is the first real competition the teachers' union and its members have faced in CUSD. Now there will be a real comparison between how CUSD educates and OPA educates. In reality, this is good for all the students in CUSD. If OPA out performs similar schools in CUSD, then the clamor for change and/or additionally charter schools will increase. However, leaving aside test scores, a significant number of parents in CUSD want the education experience offered by OPA. More structure, more accountability and more parental involvement & control. Hopefully, the existence of OPA in CUSD will result in a renewed focus on students and how they are taught.
shelly June 01, 2011 at 03:14 PM
No choice, no freedom, I support the choice of charter schools. The very fact that charter schools exists means there is a choice in public education. Charter schools are public education. Also, CUSD has school of choice so that you are able to go to any school. "Public education is one of the cornerstones of American democracy. The public schools must accept everyone who appears at their doors, no matter their race, language, economic status, or disability." The Myth of Charter Schools, Diane Ravitch, Jan. 13, 2011, The New York Review of Books "...I felt an immense sense of gratitude to the much-maligned American public education system, where no one has to win a lottery to gain admission." The Myth of Charter Schools, Diane Ravitch, Jan. 13, 2011, The New York Review of Books Also, what exactly do you believe is the purpose of a union?
shelly June 01, 2011 at 03:26 PM
No Choice, no freedom, The Barcelona PTA is not happy about it. Either are the parents at Journey. Either is ANMS. It is legal. But the people who attend the schools which Oxford is legally moving into do not have to be happy about it. These people are allowed to voice their opinions even if it is against a legal action. It is America after all. Freedom of speech and all.
Pam Sunderman June 01, 2011 at 03:36 PM
My questions have nothing to do with politics or teacher pay/benefits. Both of those issues will also be issues at a charter school. It remains to be seen whether OPA will be an option for every child. Charter schools, if they are publicly funded, cannot limit their enrollment. However the very fact that parents must provide transportation and are mandated to take an active role in their child's education eliminates students whose parents can't or won't do either. It is interesting to note the number of private school students whose parents participated in the lottery. I wonder why they are willing to put their children back into a public school. The curriculum will be identical to that of other schools in CUSD since it is based on the same standards. Teachers in CUSD are well versed in Gardiner's theories. And OPA has no track record of success.
shelly June 01, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Capo Mom, Why should it scare teachers? I would think that when OPA's teachers see how much other teachers are making and what their benefits are they may start to think about the benefits of a union. It is their right to join if they vote for it. It would be illegal for OPA's administrators to fire teachers or prevent teachers from joining. New teachers may be hired by OPA but eventually they will be veterans and how will OPA keep them if the other schools in the neighborhood and district have just as good and maybe better conditions, curriculum and much better salaries and benefits. Competition for all including the teachers. What will stop the teachers from jumping ship? It is expensive to live in South Orange County. I am all for choice in education. Choice for parents, students and teachers.
shelly June 01, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Oops meant to address the above to capo parent, sorry, capo mom.
shelly June 01, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Capo Parent, How do you know deep down that Gary Pritchard wanted to vote against it when in fact he voted for it?
OC Mom June 01, 2011 at 08:36 PM
OPA has already had over 800 applicants for its teaching positions. The teachers are well aware of the fact that they will not be in a union. They have actually had teachers leave tenured jobs to work for them in Chino. It must be that these teachers care about teaching more than about wages. They are enjoying more freedom in the classroom and less bureaucratic nightmare. Perhaps some of the newer teachers who were laid off so that the tenured teachers could keep their $80k - $90K a year positions will now be back employed with similar salaries but the ability to order supplies as needed and spend on what is needed for the students rather than having that money earmarked for use only on certain categories. The vocal teachers against OPA on this website and OC Register are vocal because they don't want to see their fat salaries reduced by 40%. Eventually, the public will wake up and realize that doing away with inefficient school districts and overpaid administrators makes sense. Watch the movie Waiting for Superman and see what quality education can be provided with less cost and fewer employees. There are failure factories in OC too! Time for reform.
Capo Parent June 01, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Shelly If you were correct, there would be no teachers at private schools. For some teachers, there is more to teaching then making top dollar with top benefits. Yes, teachers at OPA can unionize if they choose. The difference is that they don't have to a member of the teachers' union to teach at OPA.
Capo Parent June 01, 2011 at 08:57 PM
OPA will not be for every student. However, that is true for every school in CUSD. That's why students tranfer in and out of schools every year. Charter schools can limit their enrollment based on the available facilities and funding available. If that were not the case, then OPA would start with an enrollment of approximately 1250. You are correct, charter schools like OPA do require great commitment and involvment by parents and students. That is why they are not for everyone. As for the number of private school students whose parents participated in the lottery, who knows and frankly, who cares. If they are assigned to CUSD they are entitled to trying and get into OPA. As for OPA not having a track record of success, that is your opinion. Why don't you ask the parents at OPA in Chino Hills and see what they have to say. Further, you didn't define "track record of success." There are "winners" and "loosers" at all schools. Some schools have more winners than loosers and vice versa.
Pam Sunderman June 01, 2011 at 10:54 PM
I am not surprised that there are 800 applicants for teaching positions at OPA. Similar numbers are also applying for teaching positions everywhere. I would not be surprised if those 800 had applications into every local public school and private schools as well. CUSD has always had many more applicants than positions and that is why they have been able to employ the best of the best. A lot of teachers are out of work and many others are obtaining their teaching credentials this year. I would never discourage a teacher from teaching anywhere and wouldn't judge them based on where they teach. However, Capo Mom, unlike you, I would hope that they would be able to make a salary which will enable them to live in Orange County...perhaps near the school where they teach. And I would hope that each year, like every other profession, they would have an opportunity to advance. Laying off teachers because they make a higher salary is not what is best for students, schools or the teaching profession. You will not attract the best candidates with that philosophy. Given a choice, where would you work? As for more autonomy in choosing supplies, teaching materials, and curriculum...I think that works very well in most cases and would encourage CUSD to do more of that. However they are bound by state mandates. Perhaps a better solution for all would be to fix that rather than experiment with charters.
Pam Sunderman June 01, 2011 at 10:59 PM
As for fear of competition...I have many years in the classroom and as a trainer of teachers at the district and state level as well as at the university level. What I know about teaching is that it is a collaborative profession. It does not serve students well to have teachers competing against each other. I don't fear the fact that some schools may be better...I fear the possibility of schools working against each other. This is not football. We want every child to succeed and it is the nature of teachers to work together to make that happen. There should never be losers...only winners and it behooves us all to make that happen.
Pam Sunderman June 01, 2011 at 11:02 PM
And there are no "failure factories" in CUSD capo mom. Let's keep this a local issue. Most of your references about poor schools are politically based and have nothing to do with the reality in CUSD or at OPA.
Shripathi Kamath June 02, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Darn you (if that is ok with you) for ruining it, jg! I was just about to trot out my handy-dandy URL citing statistics that illustrate how charter schools have fared across the nation. Instead, all I have to say now (but maybe more later) is that I wish OPA all the success in their endeavors. I hope that the parents who applied for their kids to be in those programs get in, and succeed wildly. Maybe then we can all stop attacking Penny.
No Choice, No Freedom June 02, 2011 at 03:06 AM
...bound by state mandates...you forgot to mention the federal restrictions. Forgot to mention that education majors are in the lowest 30% of academia. Public education will improve only when parents and children are freed from the tyranny of their oppressors - education bureaucrats, and union hacks. Teaching is an honorable profession, but it is not full time, and it's not worth 70K+ even in Orange County.
No Choice, No Freedom June 02, 2011 at 03:12 AM
Does anyone know why some posts have a Reply button and others don't?
Penny Arévalo June 02, 2011 at 03:21 AM
To NCNF, apparently replies to original posts do not themselves have a reply button. And to SK, the lottery for enrollment has already taken place. With nearly 1,300 students interested and room for only 550, more than half walked away disappointed. (And, after all these years, I've developed a pretty tough hide, so let 'er rip!)
Pam Sunderman June 02, 2011 at 05:11 AM
You throw out your opinions as facts NCNF. And your political beliefs have nothing to do with what is happening in CUSD. The schools and the teachers are doing an exemplary job and there is no evidence to the contrary.
shelly June 02, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Capo Parent, There are many great teachers at private schools. There are many private school teachers who do not have a credential so many would not be hired unless they earned their credential. And how do you know that many have not applied to CUSD and were not hired? Yes, for most teachers it is about teaching. But teachers also need to survive and pay bills and if they are not compensated enough they will eventually move on or seek to bargain for better compensation collectively. OC Mom on another comment board, "Also, Capo Parent, I've spoken to the administrators of Oxford and there won't be any union teachers there. They will be getting paid about half of what the tenured teachers of Capo make. The union has always been part of the problem. Our schools could employ many energetic younger teachers for the price of the tenured veterans. Our State is cutting programs left and right due to the economy." Eventually these young teachers will be veterans and if you are only paying them half as much as others than why will they stay especially when the other public schools have the same working conditions and the same curriculum? Everyone here is talking about union or non-union but how does the curriculum and teaching methods actually differ from other CUSD schools?
smoothpuss2 June 02, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Jenna, we all know that Penny is an excellent reporter. Whenever Penny resolves the state's budget problems, do you think there is a chance that she could send her to our small town to help out on the budget problems here? (Yes, Jenna I am joking. Except for the reporter part, she really is good).
Jenna Chandler June 02, 2011 at 09:23 PM
Well, smoothpuss2, I had planned to single-handily solve all of the city's financial woes, but, you're right, I should enlist Penny's help!


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