Reasons to reject charter district

David Wilcox is not optimistic about a request from citizens living in northwestern-most section of the city seeking to have their children attend LCUSD schools. Instead, he proposes in an op-ed (“Make LCUSD a charter district,” June 20) that LCUSD should seek to convert to a charter district.

While funding for our schools has been and continues to be a challenge, there are good reasons why the La Cañada school board remains unreceptive to the charter district concept.

Regarding the proposal to transfer the Sagebrush area (the only portion of the city not attending LCUSD schools) from GUSD to LCUSD, the La Cañada Flintridge City Council has unanimously and enthusiastically approved the resolution calling for the transfer of the Sagebrush area to La Cañada schools.

The reasons cited by the city in its support of the Sagebrush resolution were clear, centering on a united community with enhanced cohesiveness and improved self-governance and public safety.

Meanwhile, the school board discussed the issue at its most recent meeting and will take a position at an upcoming meeting. It is expected that the school board will add its support as well and pursue parallel paths seeking the inclusion of Sagebrush students to La Cañada schools — first, supporting the city’s initiation of the formal process of territory transfer with the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization and second, direct dialogue with Glendale officials identifying common interests toward a mutually agreeable resolution.

The charter district concept has been advanced by certain individuals over the years for various reasons. Interestingly, David Wilcox cites a unique purpose — to adopt a mathematics curriculum. Regardless of the rationale, the LCUSD school board has not been receptive to the charter district concept generally for the following reasons:

1. By law, charter schools can never have selective admissions; anyone can apply and if more students want to attend than spaces available, a lottery would determine who gets admitted.

2. More than 50% of the existing teachers would have to vote in favor of the conversion.

3. If more than 50% of the teachers voted in favor of conversion, alternative employment for teachers opting out must be provided.

4. The District would have to provide alternate schooling for students who opt out.

5. The District would have to offer alternate schooling for District residents who happened to be excluded if a lottery system were required.

Essentially, the concept of a community school district would be jeopardized and the potential exposure to massive costs to support teachers and students who opt out or are excluded would be a deal-killer.

There are no charter districts in Los Angeles County and the few districts that do exist in the state appear to have special circumstances associated with them. Perhaps that explains why there is no charter district in the state of California that includes a high school.

Scott Tracy
La Cañada Flintridge
The writer is president of the LCUSD Governing Board

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