I have written before about the Heritage Charter Schools:
Many of us were very upset when what was once a branch of the Escondido Library was leased by City to the Heritage Digital Academy, especially when we learned that Snyder had been seen in the Library with a measuring tape before the Library was shut down by the City Council. Our protests fell on four pair of deaf ears at the City Council, so we also took our protests to two meetings of the Escondido Union School District Board of Trustees. We had looked at the Heritage School enrollment, and determined that it did not meet California requirements to reflect the demographics of the Escondido School System. Pat Mues wrote an excellent report of the second tumultuous meeting here: http://escondido2014.com/2013/06/14/eusd-board-meeting-degnerates-into-shout-out-for-heritage-charter-schools/ .
My friend, and Escondido native Katherine Fromm, attended the last meeting of the Escondido Union School District. She wrote the following about that meeting:
I grew up in Escondido and went to five schools in eight years—opening up two of them, Felicita Elementary School and Grant Middle School, (now Mission Middle School). I made some comments about the school year at the last elementary school board meeting.
We started school after September 9th, since that was California Admission Day, a state holiday. My cousins who went to school in the LA area started a week later. We never left school early because it was too hot. I remember the windows being open at Central School.
School starting dates are widely debated. Keeping elementary system dates compatible with high school dates is a concern. High Schools have contended that earlier August dates give them more time to prepare their students for advance placement exams which are in June. I don’t know how this sets with schools on the east coast, since they start in late September and conclude in later June.
We now build schools with sealed windows, because of course we can freely use air conditioning—NOT!! A typical recent decision about school architecture.
I visited with Michael Simonson, an Assistant Superintendent in the Escondido High School District. He had analyzed temperatures and determined that the hottest month was October. We are experiencing hot weather this spring thanks to global warming. Institutions, and especially schools, face the rising cost of electricity.
At the board meeting, I suggested that very few districts have two weeks of spring break. It is almost always one week. If you reduced that break to one week, you could start one week later. Other changes in the calendar are desirable, because the rising cost of air conditioning is eating into the budget too much. This is not an issue unique to this district.
The representative of the teachers suggested that the district needed a calendar committee, which the high school district does have. The high school has set their calendar for two years. The elementary district needs to consider its own needs carefully, not merely follow what the high school has mandated. This issue is likely to receive more attention in the future.
The other issue of interest to readers of this blog concerns the American Heritage Charter Schools. On June 13, 2013, the Heritage K-8 Charter presented before the elementary board for renewal of its charter. After presentations by many parents and some opponents, the Board President, Joan Gardner, made the motion that the charter be renewed until 2018, a period of five years. The charter renewal was granted.
The admissions preferences approved with the grant of the charter renewal included the following ordering of priorities:
- Students residing in the City of Escondido, with a preference for students from the Oak Hillcharters who provide admissions from the school in which the charter resides and operates and where the poverty rate reaches over 70%.
- Elementary School area where the charter operates. State law provisions gives substantial sums to
- Siblings of current students.
- Children of employees and board members.
On Feb. 23, 2015, after operating with these priorities for less than 2 years, the Heritage K-8 Charter School made a request for material revision of its previously granted charter of 2013. The elementary board meeting of March 26, 2015, constituted a public hearing on their proposal.
Their proposal altered the previously operating admissions policies as follows:
- Dependents of current employees of American Heritage Charter Schools, including dependents of charter high school employees and Heritage K-8 school board members.
- Siblings of currently-enrolled students from Heritage K-8 and Escondido Charter High School traditional classroom program.
- Students who reside within the oak Hill elementary boundaries.
This reversal of priorities will be discussed and voted on at the April 16th meeting of the elementary board. The meetings are held at the Carolyn Gilbert Center, 2310 Aldergrove Ave., and start at 7 pm.
I went online to the state site that has stats on all schools (http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/) I was curious to see whether admissions at Heritage K-8, by ethnicity, had changed. And yes they had. In 2011-12, 60% of the students were white not Hispanic, with Hispanics 25% of the students. Fast forward to 2013-14 and 50% of the students were white not Hispanic with Hispanics increasing to 33% of the population. But what I found most surprising was the decrease in total number of students. 566 in 2010-11, 735 in 2011-12, 827 in 2012-13 but only 551 in 2013-14. That’s a 33% drop in one year. Does anyone have an explanation for that change? Might that be the reason the school wants to change things around, so they can get back more of their core?
I believe the number dropped because the Heritage Digital Academy Students were included in the 2012-2013 numbers. At that time, those students were attending school at the same location as Heritage K-8. My guess is if you add up the students at K-8 and the students now at the HDA campus down the street, the number will be equal or greater than 827.
I have a student at Heritage since 2007, now in 7th grade. We entered the school in kindergarten by lottery – the only preference we benefited from was we lived in Escondido. In the early years, there was no after school program on campus. I believe this contributed to the demographics for the current upper grades. Lack of an after school program would make attending ANY school more challenging for family’s with both parents working or single parents. There is now a YMCA program on campus and the Boys/Girls Club picks up from the school. This is a great improvement.
I think the question that the EUSD Board needs to answer tonight is whether or not they wish to carry out the intent of California laws regulating charter schools. The law is quite clear about the requirements of charter schools to represent the demographics of the community they serve. The requirement to give the children of the school district in which the charter school exists, first priority, is a primary tool for fulfilling the demographic goal. Some charter schools, for example, High Tech High, seem to have no problem meeting the demographic requirements. Escondido could have had a High Tech High, but the City Council at the time, which included members Ed Gallo and Sam Abed, did not perceive the advantage such a school would have brought to Escondido. All the charter schools in Escondido, not just the Heritage schools, should be monitored by the EUSD Board to make sure they are making a concerted effort to reflect the true makeup of EUSD’s population.
Reblogged this on ESCONDIDO 2014.
I think there is more competition and choice. Look at Classical Academy completely taking over the old North County Times Building after remodeling it. Also maybe negative publicity has had an effect.
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