Local News

Mar 25, 2010 9:56 PM by Ariel Wesler

Organizers not giving up on charter school

The Santa Maria Bonita School District has denied a petition to create the Santa Maria Valley Charter School.

The district denied that petition at last night's school board meeting. The superintendent says the charter did not have all the proper planning it needed. Meanwhile, organizers say the district is standing in the way of giving kids access to quality education.

Dana Valverde says she isn't discouraged. She knew the Santa Maria Bonita School District would deny her charter school.

"They don't want competition and if there's no competition, they get to continue to do what they do, which is not provide adequate education for students," Valverde said.

"This has nothing to do with competition. This has everything to do with a thorough comprehensive plan that shows the petitioner is able to run a school," said SMBSD Superintendent Phil Alvarado

He says those backing the charter school have put together the proper financial planning to succeed and they have overestimated their revenue stream. Organizers are still searching for a facility, which is raising concerns about student safety.

"This is not a small endeavor on their part. We're talking about a proposal that's asking to house 300 students," Alvarado said.

"They are not the fire marshall. They're not the planning commission, so that isn't their purview. First you get your charter approval, then you go after the facilities," Valverde said.

She says the 144-page petition is comprehensive and she's committed to opening a quality school.

"It's very easy to say we'll do this. We'll do that. We'll do this, but when it comes to tell me how you're going to do it, that really asks for the detail," Alvarado added.

Now, the petition heads to the Santa Barbara County Office of Education in May. If they turn down the petition, the group will appeal to the California Department of Education. Valverde says she has been working on plans for the charter school since last October.

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