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San Clemente residents discuss possible charter school options

Jim Reardon, district 2 trustee on the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees, plays the part of government in an interactive explanation of charter schools given by Julie Collier on July 30 at the Talega Swim and Athletic Club. Photo: Eric Heinz
Jim Reardon, district 2 trustee on the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees, plays the part of government in an interactive explanation of charter schools given by Julie Collier on July 30 at the Talega Swim and Athletic Club. Photo: Eric Heinz

By Eric Heinz

During a meeting on Thursday, July 30, residents of San Clemente, mostly from Talega, met to discuss the possibility of bringing a charter school to the area.

Attendees heard from speakers Julie Collier, of the Parents Advocates League, and Jeffrey Shapiro, the CEO of Edvance Charter Services Group.

Collier said when her son was going through grade school, she was unhappy with the traditional school model he attended because she believed her son wasn’t getting enough attention from teachers.

Shapiro said it was because he took the initiative to look into alternatives to traditional schools that his son was able to get into a reputable college.

Parents who attended said an important requirement for the school would be offering various levels of education available to students, such as accelerated and remedial classes.

In order to start the process of forming a charter, residents must file with the state Board of Education no later than Aug. 28, if they want to have the school considered this year.

Even if the school is approved, there is no guarantee it would be located in the Talega area; charter schools are subject to wherever the district can find adequate real estate. If there is an overflow of students who apply for enrollment at the school, a lottery will decide which students may attend, according to California Education Code.

The number of students the school will admit is still in the works.

“Because we believe in small classes and a small number of students per grade, it will probably be about 500 in kindergarten through eighth grade,” Shapiro said, adding the school would have about three or four class groups per grade.

According to the California Department of Education, the deadline to file a charter submission package is Aug. 28 for this year, as the State Board of Education meets Nov. 4 and 5. Additionally, the state must approve the charter school before a county or local district can start one.

The total cost to establish the school would be based on the size and scope of the facility, if and when it is approved.

Charter schools use their own method of teaching, even though they are required to meet standards on tests, and receive funding from state and local entities just like traditional schools. In the case of San Clemente, the school would most likely still be chartered by the district unless it is filed as an application for an independent charter.

During the meeting, both presenters said establishing a charter school can be complex because of the various forms and procedures needed to be completed, but it is not impossible to accomplish.

In order to be able to file for a charter number, 250 signatures must to be collected from California residents, but the parents in Talega want to collect more because some of them will more than likely be found invalid, Shapiro said.

Group members said they intend to collect more signatures this week before the deadline.

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