By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News |http://bit.ly/gjfCKz
18 February 2011 - Hundreds of frustrated parents packed Taft High School's auditorium Thursday night, blasting a plan that would give 24 of the school's classrooms to a local charter operator.
Brokered by Los Angeles Unified officials last month, the Taft deal was one of 81 offers to charter operators - totaling 25,000 classroom seats - made by the district.
The offers, which are considered preliminary until April, were made to comply with Proposition 39, which states that district facilities must be shared "fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools."
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd, district officials tried to explain that they are obligated by law to make such offers of shared space, but parents and students were hesitant to accept the explanation.
"I know it's not very nice to say but ... we don't want them here ...," said a tearful Irene Walton, a Taft junior. "Why can't they just stay where they are?"
District officials say the deal will not force more Taft students into fewer classrooms. The 24 rooms being offered are not being used for traditional instruction but for activities or special programs, like housing the school's college and career center.
|smf: That’s the Counselor’s Office! – Taft is being forced to give up up it’s counselors office to an outside charter operator!|
Officials from Ivy Academia, the charter operator set to receive the classrooms, were not available for comment Thursday.
smf: Ivy Academia's record of fiscal management and transparent expenditure of public funds has been frequently questioned.
Historically the district has struggled to comply with Proposition 39. LAUSD has been sued twice by advocates of the independently run public charter schools over the issue. One suit is still in litigation, district officials said.
"We know parents are concerned about this, and we are here to listen," said Local District 1 administrator Linda Del Cueto. "But the district has a legal obligation to comply with the law."
Over the years, the district has tried to have charters and traditional campuses share space, but the efforts are almost always resisted by the communities served by the traditional campuses.
Parents at Taft are still reeling from an attempt by the district two years ago to offer classroom space to CHAMPS Performing Arts Charter High School. Resistance was strong enough to force the district to back down, and parents hope they can stop the current offer from moving forward.
|smf see: 4LAKids - some of the news that doesn't fit: April 2008 |
smf notes: I was at the angry Town Hall at Taft High School about the Prop 39 allocation of seats to CHAMPS Charter School last Wednesday night. ...
Jennifer Despain, a mother of three, including one Taft freshman and another Taft graduate, said parents have banded together to support the Woodland Hills school.
"Despite all the challenges faced by public education today, we've worked really hard to bring a quality education to our students here and to get the message out to other families that this is a good school," Despain said.
"This seems to be working, the neighborhood is coming back ... but something like this could put all of that in jeopardy."
Despain and other parents said they were very concerned about the valuable space that their students would lose. Among the classroom spaces that could go under the deal is the campus College and Career Center.
Students also wondered how shared facilities like athletic fields, the cafeteria, auditorium and library would be divvied up.
"We know we need to share... but if it's going to compromise the quality of our kid's education - that's not fair," Despain added.
This last round of classroom offers is the largest ever made by LAUSD.
In the San Fernando Valley alone, preliminary offers of space were given to 20 charter schools at 25 district campuses, according to district documents.