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State Gives Strong Grade to Charter School's Grant Bid

The foundation trying to create the North Bay Academy requested a $375,000 grant over three years for planning and implementation of the school.

The group vying to open a new charter school for pre-kindergarteners through eighth-graders in Novato celebrated a positive jolt Wednesday when it received word of support from the California Department of Education.

According to a release from the North Bay Educational Foundation, which wants to open a school called the North Bay Academy somewhere in Novato in time for the 2013-14 school year, said its grant application scored well — 49 out of 56 points — in grading from the state. The foundation requested a $375,000 grant over three years for planning and implementation of the school.

"Our final hurdle in obtaining this grant lies in the review of our budget, which we believe will also pass muster with the state of California,” Robert Verhoeff, NBEF board member, said in the release.

The Novato Unified School District has not rendered a decision on the foundation's petition to open the school, which would follow the Core Knowledge system of teaching. NUSD has the subject on its agenda for Dec. 11 and plans to either approve or deny the petition on Dec. 18. If it is denied, the foundation could appeal to the Marin County Office of Education or go straight to a state educational board.

The charter school effort is facing some stiff opposition from people who believe opening a new school will hurt other public schools in the district and ultimately cost the district too much money to maintain. The anti-charter effort is being led by the Save Our Novato Schools grassroots group, which has stated that such a school is not needed in Novato.

Two advocacy groups voiced opposition to the petition because of concerns about the isolation of minority kids, and the Marin Independent Journal published an editorial against approval of the charter. And on Tuesday, NUSD finance director Karen Maloney said the district's net loss from creating a new charter school would be just short of $1.4 million.

"They are looking for good news at the moment," Ross Ingels, a co-founder of Save Our Novato Schools, said of the foundation. "Our focus is that we don't feel this is the best thing for the district and the community, and we believe our opposition is gaining support."

The state graded the grant application on the charter management plan, educational programming, community and parent involvement, sustainability and alignment of resources, notification and admissions, targeted capacity building activities and  autonomy.

MJ Lonson, foundation board member and co-founder of the effort to open a second charter school in Novato, said the competition for charter grants is intense and state support is a welcomed sign.

"Scoring highly against all seven criteria is a testament to the quality of the charter school application for North Bay Academy and its supporters, educators and leaders,” she said in the release.

According to the NBEF, the Core Knowledge curriculum model is "an innovative, research-based, carefully designed program that has a proven record of equipping all students with the academic skills and personal values they need to compete in the areas of communication, fine arts, technology, mathematics and scientific innovation."

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Barbie Barbarina December 08, 2012 at 05:30 PM
@Tina McMillan are you asking me if I've asked these people how they are paying for the private high school education? I have NOT asked, will not ask, and I flat out just don't know. My best guess is it's some combination of grants, scholarships, family money, trust or savings. I ABSOLUTELY can tell you that I've witnessed this flight firsthand - Rancho families who went private come high school. I would need multiple hands to count the number of families I know who did so in my oldest's class alone. So, I have every reason to believe the same would hold true with a charter - considering this pattern I've witnessed firsthand (and other comments are attesting to on this very site).
Tina McMillan December 08, 2012 at 08:50 PM
BB To think that the majority of children that go to Rancho, Novato Charter School or the Core Knowledge Charter will leave the district at High School is not realistic. To ignore the children from the other elementary and middle schools and act as if there is no attrition in those programs to private schools makes for a very one sided conversation. The fact that some families can afford private high schools has nothing to do with the need for more programs like STEM and MSA or a Core Knowledge charter. Novato's history of innovation in public education can continue. To imply that people are misusing public education by using it in combination with private education or public charters or public magnets makes little sense. I am not asking where people get their money; I am saying that you are unrealistic about what most Novato families can afford.
D Rex December 10, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I guess this guy better get his checkbook out. I don't think many people would move their kids to a place that has no building, no teachers....nothing except a proposal on paper. And they want to open in 7 months? As for NUSD publicising withdrawls...why would they do that when people like you have cried "foul" over names being public in the first place? this thing is over, move on, write your tuition checks to your school
John Parnell December 10, 2012 at 11:27 PM
For a second, I thought I'd answer your question with something equivalent - like "Actually, I was thinking S.I. or Andover.", but I will answer honestly... I was a couple of years behind you at Redwood, as that was the district in which my family lived. I dated girls from Novato & MC, and never thought twice about either. I never disparaged anyone because of where they went to high school. I take it you don't feel the same way. I have met a number of people who go the OLL/MC route, and have never thought twice about it. Do you look down on these neighbors of ours, because they chose to send their kids to parochial schools? You should check out the new STEM program announced at San Marin. It looks great, and is very promising, even if the pilot is only 200 kids. Your alma mater is doing some cool things. Why do you think Redwood or Tam is any better? When I was on Marin Rowing, since we were one of the only public crew programs, we used to chant "We don't pay for school!" at our opponents to taunt them before our races. It was all in good fun, in competitive rivalry, but we actually didn't really care. The only thing I was jealous of was that we had old heavy wooden "barges", while our competition used lightweight carbon-fiber shells. But we didn't let it bother us, and we still beat them anyway. We didn't let insecurities get the best of us - I would suggest the same to you.
ConcernedNovatoan December 12, 2012 at 03:05 AM
http://www.nusd.org/files/_jLHqR_/1ccd95fde372590c3745a49013852ec4/12-11-12_Staff_Presentation_FINAL.pdf Well, at first glance it appears the Charter School workshop that was presented is so lopsided, one has to wonder if there are any good points regarding the new charter school. What I mean by lopsided, is that the authors of the report tried to find every weakness of the charter and not even mention any positives. Is it really that bad??? i would venture to say the proponents of the charter school should take a very good hard look at this document and address the deficiencies outlined by the NUSD analysis team before proceeding. I am still hopeful that this charter school will still come to fruition sometime in the near future. If not this year, then perhaps next year.

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