Newport-Mesa weighs charter school’s petition to operate in the district

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District board of trustees received a petition Tuesday from a charter school seeking to operate within the district’s boundaries.

The International School for Science and Culture submitted the petition to the district on Sept. 11 with a letter from Patricia Guild, who is in line to be the school’s founding principal.

“Our charter petition was thoughtfully prepared and rigorously evaluated by experts in the fields of education, administration, finance and the law,” Guild wrote. “We believe that we have satisfied all the legal requirements for authorization and have built a strong founding team capable of executing our mission.”

ISSAC is seeking a five-year term and intends to open in August with about 390 students in transitional kindergarten through fifth grade, according to the petition. It would operate as a public, tuition-free charter school.

Its mission includes using a “standards-aligned STREAM program” and “world languages and cultures” to differentiate it from local public schools. STREAM stands for science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math.

Students would study Spanish and Mandarin Chinese in addition to English, and would rotate among different classrooms.

The school would be able to enroll students from Newport-Mesa as well as neighboring districts.

The Newport-Mesa board is required by state law to hold a public hearing on the petition, and trustees will subsequently vote to grant or deny it. If it is denied, ISSAC may seek approval from the Orange County Board of Education.

“I’m looking forward to the public meeting with our community and recommendations from staff as well as the presentation from the proposed charter,” Newport-Mesa board President Vicki Snell said Wednesday.

District spokeswoman Annette Franco said the public hearing is planned for Oct. 25.

A handful of letters of support were included with ISSAC’s petition packet, including one from parent Yola Zajac, a recent immigrant who intends to enroll her daughter, Ola, at the charter school next year.

“Even though we have to work hard to improve our English, I believe it will benefit my daughter to learn Spanish and Chinese,” Zajac wrote. “The message of global citizenship is also very important. We do not want our daughter to be narrow-minded but rather to understand the people of the world through their languages and cultures.”

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