SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘St. Hope financial arrears’ Category

Has anybody seen the facilities use agreement?

A tonight’s school board meeting, Item 9.1 is to include a presentation and discussion of the facilities use agreement that SCUSD has with St. Hope Public Schools.

On the agenda, Item 9.1 is clearly labelled as an action item. Local education activists who have contacted board members and administration have been told that the item is for discussion only. So which is it? Or is it more likely that the agreement was scheduled for confirmation until activists raised the questions that so urgently need to be asked?

The Observer hates to sound cyncial but the above scenario has played out in the past with regard to the former Sacramento High School facility.

The updated SCUSD website does not have current/available copies of the actual text of the agreements. The public was promised these agreements at the end of July after their placement on the June 4th agenda.

How can SCUSD justify leasing a comprehensive high school facility to a charter program that is operating well-below enrollment capacity? Given the recent school closings can SCUSD afford the underutilization of the historic Sacramento High School campus?

Should SCUSD reauthorize again a facility use agreement in a location which does not seem to achieve the diverse student population called for in district policy and the charter agreement?

In the interest of keeping this posting short, we’ll temporarily sidestep the questions regarding St. Hope’s money problems, its co-location of an elementary school and an adult education center on the campus, and a myriad of other questions that beg for answers…

…questions that our board members need to be asking before they start ratifying anything. Maybe they’ll ponder these queries while they’re hanging out with Kevin Johnson and Dinger at today’s photo opportunity with Arne Duncan and Jack O’Connell.


Written by scusdobserver

September 3, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Review of Options…

Thursday night’s school board meeting promises a very full agenda:

  • SAIT progress reports for Father Keith B. Kenny Charter, Alice Birney and Pacific Elementary Schools
  • A recommendation on the VIMS Charter Petition
  • A budget update
  • Criteria for layoffs
  • Criteria for school consolidation/closure…

…among many other items. Public comment is scheduled for around 7:15 p.m.

Highlights from the last meeting (February 19th, 2009).

Student and Family Support Services Report
Board members reinforced their commitments to increased engagement with the families of students. The concept that empowering staff tasked with this job is more important than the efficiencies of the Learning Support Unit model was shared.

Public Comment
A heart rendering story was shared by a teacher concerning a middle school student’s ensnarement into the prostitution of children. Extra comment time was extended to the teacher and an immediate referral to Student and Family Services was made.

Policy Governance Framework returned to committee
The proposal was for the president role to rotate and for this person to be the only official spokesperson for the Board. Concerns were expressed concerning how this would affect trustee areas.

Midyear cuts revised down to $9.5 M from $15 M
$2 million cut, $4 million borrowed from other funds.
3.5 million remaining cuts most likely to come from categorical funds.

Budget deficit revised down to $15.7 M (includes $8.3 M of one-time 08-09 funds.)
Potential Options: $1 M savings from central office, $2 M savings/income from closing/renting 4 schools, $2 M savings from no or bond contribution to deferred maintenance.

Staff lay offs
Two exhibits with a range of 200 to 500 direct certificated services (teachers) were presented. It was also stated that all administrative services would be laid off to provide “maximum flexibility”.

St HOPE financial agreement Quarterly Report
A one-page annual budget summary of the current fiscal year was presented to the Board as an update on the current financial status of ST HOPE Public Schools. A 39 page audit of the previous fiscal year (completed 12/08) was attached. There was minimal Board discussion.

School facilities closing/community engagement
Staff presented a case study of a neighborhood school using their study matrix and criteria tools. The Board directed staff to revise their study approach to use capacity utilization as the ranking approach rather than enrollment numbers.

Local Educational Agency Plan for 08-09
The comprehensive plan which outlines how district programs and resources will coordinate to meet the principles and objectives of No Child Left Behind was adopted with minimal discussion.

Written by scusdobserver

March 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm

St. Hope’s indebtedness

Yesterday’s story in the Sacramento Bee outlines the depth of St. Hope’s fiscal indebtedness to the city’s school system. The highlights include the scope and history of the problem. The reader comment section tells the rest of the story. Some of these are just too astute to fade away into cyberspace. Below are some excerpts:

When the occupant of your prized-possession campus in the heart of our city can slip $1 million dollars in the hole while bleeding you of revenue-generating enrollments at PUBLIC high schools, you’re in no position to propose the cutbacks this District so obviously needs.

I thought the whole point of St. Hope was that they would do a better job teaching the at-risk student. Let’s be clear, it is not hard to teach motivated kids, even if they come from poor households. The trick is to motivate the unmotivated. Maya seems to admit what we all feared. St. Hope’s goal is to take the best students for themselves and leave the other high schools with the more challenging students.

All the “access” in the world won’t help Sac Charter if they can’t retain the students they already have. Their dropout/expulsion/turnover rate is way higher than the other public comprehensive high schools. And remember, these are students who chose to go to this school. No one forced then to go. They don’t leave because the school has such high expectations. West Campus and HISP also have very high expectations of their students and there is a waiting list to get into these schools/programs. The real reason may simply be that Sac Charter is not a good match for the majority of students in the former Sacramento High School attendance area.

I was in the first class to graduate with all four years of Sac High being under St. Hope (2007). Each year we saw less and less students, the students that actually needed help. St. Hope doesn’t give help to the students who are enviromentally or SES challenged, they simply drive them away to other schools- to be someone else’s problem. St. Hope wants people to think they are this shining beackon of light for students and their community, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. Work at St. Hope, or send your child there….then you’ll see if they worked as hard for their students as they do their image, then we would have some hope.

To suggest that some mysterious cadre of “union operatives” is behind this movement is just plain crazy. I live, and work in a City that I love precisely BECAUSE of its diversity, and I oppose St. HOPE because it fails us as a community when it ceases to become the melting pot that was and is the promise of PUBLIC education. Its not a union thing. It’s not about color. It’s about accountability. St. HOPE works on a different campus, on a smaller scale. All the Board needs to do is move them to a different facility, and let the citizens reclaim the Sac High Campus for the benefit of ALL.

I for one, have read the charter and have gone to board meetings regularly for the past year and a half. If you read the charter, they also say that they’ll have special ed students and English Language learner students. They also say they’ll reflect the demographics of the SCUSD and the former Sac Hi attendance area. They fail on ALL counts. The school was the most diverse in the dist. as a regular public school. It is now the LEAST diverse. It was supposed to help the children of Oak Park first. Over 50% of families in OP are ELL yet the school went from 30% ELL to less than 10%.The fact is, they DO NOT serve the students in the former Sac High attendance area many of whom are ELL and poor performing. The most at-risk are counseled out. KJ said on Oprah, if you aren’t on the college path, then this school isn’t for you. That’s a sure-fire way to ensure that the more difficult to educate students don’t show up at your door.

Someone forgot to tell Mr. Maya what an independent school is. As an independent charter, they are in essence it own school board and district. So SCUSD, did not have to list them as a school on the website or any other literature. But that is besides the point. St. Hope owes the district money, period. If St. Hope does not want to adhere to being an independent charter, then they should changed their status. Furthermore, what/who gave St. Hope the authority to move students from there campus to a high school charter campus? Should not that have gone before the board, or was a MOA restructured to allow this to happen? I want St. Hope to succeed, but enough is enough. Make Sac High a non-independent charter, while allowing St. Hope to run teaching operations only.

…the school continues to be significantly under enrolled five years after the charter was granted. Mr. Maya seems to underscore the claim that part of the attendance issue (and $ woes)is that Sac Charter is not a good option for kids who are reluctant students (those kids who may be there by “default” as he says). St. Hope displaced a comprehensive high school, one that was charged with educating all students–even those with no interest in college and those who tend to chafe under “strict” requirements. And that’s always the rub with public education: some kids are simply more difficult to educate than others. But we still have a commitment to them as a society. A college prep school intent on serving only motivated students is the St. Hope dream. Fine. Just not in place of a program for all children: special ed, ELLs, those with caring families and those with no one who nurtures them, kids intent on college and kids who haven’t figured it out yet.

Written by scusdobserver

November 22, 2008 at 4:03 pm