FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

Education

Charter school enters into agreement with Vacaville district

By From page A4 | April 04, 2014

VACAVILLE — The law is the law.

Despite that simple board member statement, the passage of a facilities use agreement between the Vacaville School District and Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy didn’t come without some hefty grumbling and complaining from the governing board Thursday night before approving the agreement 5-2.

Focal point of the lengthy conversation, which led to the dissenting votes of Jerry Eaton and Whit Whitman, was loss of district enrollment and state money, and a charter school law – 2000 Proposition 39 – that calls for school districts to supply independent charter schools with facilities equal to district students should the request be made.

“I don’t agree with the law, in fact, it’s a bad law,” Whitman said.

Eaton agreed.

Board member David McCallum said he didn’t agree with the law either, but said “it is the law.”

“They’re here,” he said of Kairos. “Get used to it. I want to start a relationship with Kairos on a positive note . . .”

The former Elm Elementary School site hasn’t been used as a school since 2004 but currently houses the district’s Independent Study Program and a Solano County Office of Education program.

Board member Chris Flask acknowledged the issue as a sensitive one and said he “fully understands where all the board members are coming from,” but said he sees things from a different angle.

“I keep hearing this language about our students and their students. They’re all our students . . . we want to do the best for these kids,” he said. “We’re bringing back (the Elm Elementary School site) to serve kids . . . what (more) do you want for a school?”

To not comply with the law could lead to the lawsuit, the district’s attorney said during the meeting.

Should the agreement not have passed, a lawsuit was not the direction Kairos co-founder Jared Austin said they wanted to go. He said after the meeting he wasn’t fazed by the board’s conversation but rather was looking forward to working with them.

“I work in the charter world, we’re used to the heat,” he said, laughing.

First up for Austin is submitting paperwork for a charter school grant that calls for matching funds, half of which will be paid by the district if approved. Austin said they’re asking for $2 million to $4 million – the facilities agreement calls for Kairos to foot start-up and usage costs. And, if approved, bringing the school up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be included in its costs.

Any money granted won’t be seen until October – the school is slated to open for the 2014-15 school year.

In the meantime, Austin said, “We’ll make it work and make it sparkle as best as we can.”

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

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Discussion | 5 comments

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  • Vacaville ParentApril 04, 2014 - 4:44 am

    I hope the board is regretful of their decision to pass over Heritage Peak now that it's become apparent that this situation with Kairos might not be all.sunshine and roses. Heritage Peak is established, already serves students in the district, and has a fantastic track record. Just looked back at the science fair article and one of their students is heading to the state competition. I hope Heritage Peak is glad not to be a part of this joke of a district.

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  • The MisterApril 04, 2014 - 6:59 am

    Ditto!

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  • Monica BrownApril 04, 2014 - 7:20 am

    Thank you Jerry and Whit for voting NO on the charter school request. The group is already asking for public money. This means less money to be spent for students in the classroom. If this group wants to run their own school,then they can fund their own cause.

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  • Danny BuntinApril 04, 2014 - 1:36 pm

    Charter schools are a scam. They get to pick who their students are and get to dump ones they do not like. All the while taking money from the rest of the children in public school. By default the good kids in public school would preform just as well in either a charter or public.

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  • Charter ParentApril 04, 2014 - 11:51 pm

    As a charter school parent, I would just like to say that my son did well in public school. The reasons we took him out, and opted for a charter home school was to be able to give him greater opportunities and challenge him in a different setting. Since we home school, we've been able to travel, research curriculum that would keep him engaged and active, and he's been free to pursue a course of study that wouldn't be available in public school. He's active in sports, including options not normally found in most public schools. (Rugby, Fencing, Archery) and this option works the best for us as a family. Charter schools are just one option, it's still up to the parents, and kids to make the most of the opportunities that are available.

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