students by demanding that the Morgan Hill Unified School District,
which granted its charter two years ago, provide it with a school
facility. This is their right under an ill-advised tenet of
Proposition 39, approved by voters in November 2000.
Morgan Hill Charter School officials are looking out for their students by demanding that the Morgan Hill Unified School District, which granted its charter two years ago, provide it with a school facility. This is their right under an ill-advised tenet of Proposition 39, approved by voters in November 2000.
However, this demand is being made of the same Morgan Hill School District from which the charter school pulls most of its students, costing the district thousands of dollars per year per child in state average daily attendance funds it would receive if those children were still in MHUSD schools. MHCS enrolled 290 students this year and expects to ramp up to 440 by the 2005-06 school year.
It’s the same Morgan Hill School District that is having difficulty paying for facilities and renovations for the students who remain in the district, having gone over budget on the building of Barrett Elementary School, overseeing renovations of Live Oak High School that some say aren’t remodeling enough of the decades-old facility, and facing hurdle after hurdle in its attempts to build a much-needed second high school.
And, yes, it’s the same Morgan Hill School District that’s facing steep and possibly unprecedented budget cuts due to the state’s looming $35-billion budget deficit.
But the charter school wants a facility, and California voters gave the school the right to demand one.
Proposition 39 mandated that a school district must provide at no extra cost, a safe, contiguous and equipped building “reasonably close to the area where the charter school wants to locate.”
To be fair, we must point out that if the school district were doing a better job, the Charter School, which is now housed in a shopping center, might well not exist. But, given the myriad communication, planning and leadership problems the district has demonstrated, many parents have opted to remove their K-8 students from traditional public schools and enroll them in the new charter school.
This is a fact with consequences that the district, and the students and families who remain loyal to it, must endure. The district, which has considered closing Encinal School just north of Morgan Hill, offered to provide that building to the charter school, seemingly a win-win solution for a cash-strapped district. But charter school officials turned up their collective noses at this idea, providing instead a wish list of pie-in-the-sky site preferences that incredibly, included a desire for a near-downtown location. A look at the two-year search the Chamber of Commerce endured for a much smaller downtown space should serve as a slap-in-the-face reality check for Morgan Hill Charter School officials.
The vast majority of this community’s students attend Morgan Hill School District schools, and their well-being must not be sacrificed to provide comparatively few students with a dream facility. In this time of economic crisis, when dollars are short and demands for them are high, it behooves charter school officials as good citizens to remember the difference between “want” and “need”; to not make demands on the district that will harm the thousands of other students in Morgan Hill, San Martin and south San Jose that it serves.
Charter School backers should reconsider the Encinal location if and when the district decides – as expected – to close the school and move the students to Los Paseo Elemenbtary in south San Jose.