OJAI : Board Rejects Plan for Charter School

School board members in Ojai have rejected a proposal to start Ventura County's first charter school after expressing concerns about its financial viability and the needs of special education students.

Deanna Nakosteen, a former teacher who ran a private school from her home for seven years, first presented the idea for starting a charter school in November.

The school, she said, would offer parents a no-cost alternative to public education that would emphasize the arts and other non-academic subjects.

Under state law, charter schools receive the same funding as public schools--$3,200 a students each year--but are largely free from the rules governing other public schools.

On Tuesday, trustees with the Ojai Valley Unified School District said they were uncomfortable with assuming financial liability for Nakosteen's charter school and questioned whether it would be able to provide the programs needed for special education students on such a limited budget.

"I come from a business perspective," said Rikki Horne, the newest member of the board. "I look at finances very critically. There were just a lot of liability issues."

Horne said she was also influenced by a resolution from the Ojai teacher's union opposing the charter school.

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