Howard Blume in LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/gyoPBY
December 2, 2010 | 2:11 pm - Four dozen groups will vie for control of 10 new campuses and three existing schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The applications, which were due Wednesday, are part of a reform strategy under which groups inside and outside the nation’s second-largest school system compete to run new schools and persistently low-performing schools that fall short of improvement targets.
The new schools, including seven high schools, were built as part of a voter-approved, bond-funded construction program to relieve decades of overcrowding.
At long-struggling Clay Middle School, two campus groups will compete with Green Dot Public Schools, a charter-school organization. Green Dot also has a bid in for a new middle school.
Charters are privately owned and independently managed public schools.
For Muir Middle School, the competitors are an internal district team and MLA Partners, an outside nonprofit that already manages Manual Arts and West Adams high schools. MLA this week also had to deal with the sudden resignation of the Manual Arts principal following an internal district investigation. District officials declined to release details of the investigation.
The only proposal for Mann Middle School came from the coordinator of the school’s program for assisting low-income students.
One large charter organization, ICEF Public Schools, has been beset by financial difficulties and abandoned its bids for Mann and Muir as well as two new schools.
All told, charters have bids in for nine of the 10 new schools, according to the California Charter Schools Assn. Only a handful of charters prevailed in bids for new schools last year, on the first round of competition for schools. Charter operators complained last year that they were not given a fair shot at the new campuses.
On Wednesday, local charter leaders held a news conference to announce their submission of bids.
“We stand here, together, to ensure that charter schools are given a fair chance at running high-quality schools,” said Jacqueline Elliot, founder of Partnerships to Uplift Communities.
On Thursday, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa continued his advocacy for charter schools by visiting Granada Hills Charter High School in support of that school's bid to control a new San Fernando Valley high school campus.