Connie Llanos | L.A. Daily News
6/16/2010 -- Los Angeles Unified officials Tuesday unanimously approved converting Carpenter Avenue Elementary school, one of the San Fernando Valley's highest performing campuses, into a charter school.
The Studio City school will operate as an LAUSD affiliated charter, which means that staff will still receive district employee benefits and remain union employees and the school will not have to lease its own space. The school must also enroll all of its students from its current district-approved attendance boundaries, unlike other independently run charter schools that take students on a lottery basis. (see smf note)
"The parents, teachers and community members of Carpenter spoke very clearly that this is what they wanted for their school so I was happy to support them," board member Tamar Galatzan said.
"They will have more control of their decisions, but they will still be a district school enrolling neighborhood students."
Michellene De Bonis, a parent of fifth- grade and third-grade students at Carpenter and a lead petitioner for the charter, said over the last few years the school has been hit hard by district budget cuts.
Because Carpenter has fewer minority children and students from low-income families, the school does not receive as much federal and state dollars for special programs as other district schools. DeBonis said being a charter will allow the school to have more flexibility to spend its money.
"If we don't have the ability to reallocate funds, then we can't really adapt," DeBonis said.
Carpenter is also known for its ability to hold major fundraisers, raising up to $350,000 to pay for music classes, gym teachers and other costs.
Mary Odson, parent of a first grade student at Carpenter, said she thinks the school's conversion to a charter, that will be called Carpenter Avenue Community Charter School, will encourage more local businesses and community members to support the school.
" I believe it will attract more attention from the business community," said Odson, who also owns a local bake shop.
"It sends a message: this is your school so if you want to be a part of the community, support your community school."
Valley schools appear on best list:
- Two San Fernando Valley schools were listed among the top 150 in Newsweek's new compilation of 1,600 top American schools.
- Van Nuys High School ranked 55 th on the annual list, while North Hollywood came in at 149.
Newsweek compiles the list based on the number of Advanced Placement classes, and on standardized test scores. At least 15 schools from Southern California were ranked among the top 200.
smf notes: The Newsweek Best Schools List and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition sell a lot of magazines.
It's hard to imagine that Carpenter – a gem in LAUSD's crown - can be any more successful than it has historically been at attracting community financial support.
I'm not all that convinced that the ability to independently fundraise is a proper criteria for charterdom. This could lead to an exodus of non-Title I schools (all of whom suffer excessively from the budget cuts) from the district – in itself proving that TI funding in LAUSD supplants rather than supplements basic education funding – violating the law.
And one hopes that the sentence "The school must also enroll all of its students from its current district-approved attendance boundaries" is a bit of over-reporting. Carpenter has historically drawn attendance waiver students – and kids with 'fudged' addresses - from outside its catchment area. Strict enforcement of any "locals only" policy without attendance boundary changes, waivers or a lottery will eliminate a large percentage of the Carpenter student body.