Local News

Jan 9, 2010 12:19 AM by Stacy Daniel

New charter school may open in Santa Maria

A local group takes the first steps to start a charter school in the Santa Maria Valley.
A teacher is spear-heading the movement. At the moment the school doesn't have an approved charter or a location. A petition has been filed with the Santa Maria Bonita School District. Just about the only thing the school has at the moment is a website.

School teacher Dana Valverde is on a mission. Her goal is to open a charter school in Santa Maria. Valverde says she thought of the idea while at work one day. She's a teacher at Manzanita Charter School on East Vandenberg Air Force Base. Valverde says, "A lot of parents have asked to have a charter school here and a lot of parents have asked for that and somebody had to step up to the plate and I did." Valverde says more than a hundred parents have talked to her about opening a charter school in Santa Maria. Valverde says, "We expect that we'll have to go to a lottery system. Which means that everybody will apply to get in and if we get more than 75 per grade level then we will have to go the lottery system." She's a teacher with high hopes. Valverde wants to start the school year off with with around 300 students and offer three classes each of kindergarten, first, second and third grade. More classes will be added every year as students progress. Enrollment will eventually be capped at 525 students.

Officials with the Santa Maria Bonita School District tell me they've received a petition about the school but have yet to review it.Santa Maria-Bonita School District Superintendent, Phil Avarado says, "We'll be doing analysis of the petition next week and that will give me guidance to inform the board of what we recommend they need to consider." Valverde says 12 teachers will be hired in the first year.

The group is holding an informational meeting Saturday from 2:00 to 3:00 P.M. at the Sewing Super store in Santa Maria. That's located at 127 East Main Street.

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