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UPDATE: Hart district to consider new charter school

Adds details on recommendation

Posted: February 5, 2013 1:35 p.m.
Updated: February 5, 2013 5:37 p.m.

Hart district officials have recommended the school board deny a petition for a new seventh- and eighth-grade charter school at the board’s meeting Wednesday night.

Apollo Public Schools had petitioned the William S. Hart Union High School District to open a charter school that follows a “blended learning” model, under which certain segments of each school day are tailored to individual students, according to the charter petition.

The model would also combine traditional face-to-face classroom learning with computer- and technology-driven activities.

The proposed school would target minority, English-language-learning and low-income students for enrollment, according to the charter petition. It would be the first school ever opened by Apollo Public Schools.

Vicki Engbrecht, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services, confirmed Tuesday that the district is recommending denial of the petition but said she could not share the specific reasons why.

“The district has taken about two months to review the petition in detail and we’ve determined that, at this point, it doesn’t fulfill all of the criteria set down by law,” Engbrecht said.

She also said the Apollo Public Schools organization has already been notified of the district’s recommendation.

During the board’s public hearing on the charter petition on Dec. 12, board members questioned what the Apollo Charter School would offer that existing district schools do not and what impact the school could have on district-wide enrollment.

Johnny Jin, the co-founder of Apollo Public Schools and applicant for the Apollo school charter, told board members the school’s maximum enrollment would be set at 450 students.

If approved, it would become the fifth charter school in the Hart district.

Also on the board’s agenda is a proposal that would change the election dates for board members from odd years to even years beginning with the 2013 election.

The move would consolidate the board’s election with California’s general statewide elections, saving the district an estimated $100,000 to $180,000, according to the proposed resolution.

These savings are because the district would not have to foot the cost of putting on its own election, said district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

Pinsker said the primary rationale behind the proposal is that being on the ballot during a general election year may increase voter turnout.

The resolution would extend the terms of each current board member for an additional year. Board members Bob Jensen, Paul Strickland and Joe Messina would face re-election in 2014 instead of 2013; board members Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Steve Sturgeon would be up for re-election in 2016 instead of 2015.

If the board approves the resolution, it would go to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for a final decision. That decision would be made within 60 days after the resolution is approved.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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