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Charter School Petitioners Opt to Back Off, Regroup

New target for proposed school opening is fall 2014 instead of this fall.

Novato will continue to have just one public charter school for the time being.

 A proposed second one, following the mildly controversial Core Knowledge curriculum, won't open by fall 2013 now that the foundation seeking a new educational option for Novato families has decided to make tweaks to its petition and resubmit it to the school district later this year.

 The North Bay Educational Foundation announced at public meeting Tuesday night that it will focus on outreach efforts as it targets the 2014-15 school year rather than appeal the Novato Unified School District's petition denial in December.

In a statement, NBEF said it will "take the opportunity to strengthen and revise a few sections of the document, which will allow them to put forth a stronger budget scenario that reflects the passage of Prop 30 this past November. In the coming months, NBEF will continue to focus on the community outreach outlined in the current petition to insure that all members of the community understand the benefits of a Core Knowledge curriculum and the unique school structure that NBEF offers."

The foundation had the choice to appeal to the Marin County School Board or rework sections of the petition and resubmit it to NUSD. The NBEF said it believed its chances on appeal were strong, but fast-approaching deadlines were hampering a fall 2013 opening.

"We appreciate the enormity of the responsibility to educate children in Novato, and we will submit the petition to allow ample time to open the school strongly and successfully," NBEF founder Robert Verhoeff said.

While emphasizing that he and foundation leaders are not giving up, Verhoeff criticized the school board for voting unanimously to deny the charter petition. He said the majority of NBEF supporters believe the district's findings were arbitrary, inaccurate or contained no legal basis for denial.

As Verhoeff reiterated points he already made before the school board, NUSD Superintendent Shalee Cunningham sat at Tuesday's meeting at St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church and took occasional notes.
The one-year delay will allow for more communication and public education about Core Knowledge, Verhoeff said.

"We will continue to meet with the community so that all families understand that they are welcome at this open-enrollment public charter school," he said in the statement. "We invite all interested parents and community members to work with us and provide input to insure this school will best serve the needs of our children."

What's your reaction to this move? Share your comments below.

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ConcernedNovatoan January 30, 2013 at 11:17 PM
John G. Which kids are you talking about? The white ones or the ones who are Hispanic?
ConcernedNovatoan January 30, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Andrew R, "high rates" of immigration doesn't imply he is against legal immigration altogether.
Not_a_Troll January 30, 2013 at 11:56 PM
So is he suggesting that the newspaper got it wrong? Or, is he just not good at speaking? NBEF seems to have a habit of accusing OTHER people and OTHER websites of spreading "misinformation and lies." It's like the "they're all out to get me" mentality, it seems. This thing has become such a hot mess, let's just put it to rest already. (p.s. in his own letter he accuses NUSD of trying to be "one size fits all." not sure that's the case ... one charter already in operation, STEM at San Marin, MSA at Novato High ... shall I continue?)
Will Johnson January 31, 2013 at 01:33 AM
It is at the high school level where famiiles are leaving in droves, so that is where any effort goes. Can't wait for STEM - seems great, although I give the staff at SM the credit for that. If you don't want a Waldorf experience for your K-8 child, are there other choices that I am unaware of? If Christian, Ingels and McIntyre would at a minimum post the information from the district, I don't think anyone would have any issue with that website. Opinions are varied, facts tend to be true or false. Would be nice if the district would provide accurate information, too, but financial analyses are based on assumptions and "fair and balanced" doesn't seem to be the way they roll down on 7th street when it comes to evaluating charter schools.
ConcernedNovatoan January 31, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Not a Troll: We are talking about elementary level schools, not middle or high schools. There isn't much choice (correct me if I am wrong) at the elementary school levels except for the Novato Charter School, And if the current NUSD approach is so worthy of all our elementary school students, then why are the Hispanic kids failing even worse as they go on to higher educational levels?

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