FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Find answers to some of our most frequently-asked questions below...

Contents

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Answers to additional enrollment questions can be found here.

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These FAQs cover general questions raised by community members in regards to RVCs interaction with the Ross Valley School District. We also have answers to questions from enrolled families here. Questions about the enrollment process are here.

PROPOSITION 39 REQUEST FOR 2018-19 CLASSROOMS

How many classrooms has RVC requested for the 2018-19 school year?

RVC submitted a Proposition 39 request to Ross Valley School District on November 1 2017 to use public school facilities for its public school students. According to the California Department of Education, the intent of Prop 39 is that “public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools.”

It is not the requester’s role to calculate what determines the “reasonably equivalent amount of space” that school districts are required to provide.

However, state regulations and case law (see note below) do indicate how these calculations should be made. According to the space allocation formula indicated by these sources, nine classrooms (seven TK-5 regular classrooms plus at least two classrooms for art, music, intervention, special education and aftercare) would be the minimum for the 144 in-District students that RVC projects will enroll in 2018-19. RVC currently occupies 8 classrooms in 2017 for its 135 students.

RVC expects to need the same amount of shared space, gym space and field time as it occupies on the White Hill campus for the current 2017-18 school year. RVC is not requesting use of the library, which the District currently provides one day a week and RVC does not use. At the beginning of 2017-18, RVC offered the one-day-per-week use of the library back to White Hill for the current year 2017-18, but the District declined, so the library sits empty one day a week.

Although Prop 39 only requires the District to give space for in-District students, state law also requires charter schools to admit out-of-District students at a lower priority. RVC is projecting 28 out-of-District students in its total of 172 students, which is 16% or 4 students per classroom.

Note: You can read a summary of the 2015 California Supreme Court case CCSA vs. LAUSD that decided the classroom space allocation formula at RVSD’s Prop 39 law firm’s (Dannis Wolliver Kelley) website. It states:

“…the district must count the number of [physical] classrooms in the comparison group schools…[then], the district must use the resulting [classroom] number as the denominator in the ADA/classroom ratio for allocating classrooms to charter schools based on their projected ADA.” “The Court was clear that whether a classroom is staffed with a teacher is not a criterion that determines whether the classroom would be considered as “provided” to a student.”

ROSS VALLEY CHARTER FINANCES

For details on RVC financials, click here.

Is RVC allowed to accept personal loans from families and friends?

Yes, charter law allows schools to accept personal loans from families and Board members. In 2015 and 2016, RVC accepted personal loans to ensure cash reserves. These loans were zero-interest or 1.5% interest (below market rate), making them the most cost-effective way to ensure our financial reserves. Public school districts frequently take out market-rate loans, the interest on which is paid by taxpayers. RVC was gratified to be able to get financing from local families who are committed to creating a high-quality educational option in the public school system. 
 
RVC included these loans in the budget attached to the Charter petition to the state, and includes them on financial reports to the State. The loans made to RVCS do not fall within the financial interests designated in Exhibit “B” to the RVCS Conflict of Interest Code and are therefore not subject to disclosure on the Form 700.  The Political Reform Act specifies that the reportable financial interests are generally investments, business positions, interests on real property or sources of income.  A loan from the officers or Board members to RVCS does not fall within these types of interests. 

ROSS VALLEY CHARTER AT THE WHITE HILL CAMPUS

Will RVC use all 8 classrooms that RVSD allocated to RVC on the White Hill campus?

Yes, for the 2017-18 school year, RVC is using all eight classrooms on the White Hill campus as allocated to it in the District’s final Prop 39 offer made on March 22, 2017.

RVC is using six classrooms as regular, full-day classrooms. The two other rooms are being used for art, music and childcare.

The District chose to locate RVC at its White Hill Middle School campus rather than in vacant classrooms at one or more of the District’s elementary campuses or its mostly vacant Red Hill campus requested by RVC. RVC is interested in working with White Hill administration and staff to allow White Hill to make use of portions of RVC space when unoccupied by RVC.

Did RVC offer to return a classroom to RVSD for its use during the 2017-18 school year?

Yes. RVC made a fair offer to return to RVSD one classroom and RVC’s one-day-per-week use of the White Hill library.  

On September 5, 2017, RVSD informed RVC that its impacts on White Hill “are not meaningfully lessened by returning a single classroom” and that it would not accept RVC’s terms for the return of exclusive use of the classroom or the return of one-day-per-week of library space for use by White Hill Middle School.  

RVC regrets that an agreement was not reached with the District on changes to Facilities Use Agreement (FUA) terms for returning these spaces to be used exclusively by White Hill.

Since RVC and RVSD have not reached an agreement on this issue, on September 12, 2017, the RVC board authorized School Director Duchene to discuss directly with the White Hill principal how White Hill might best use room 105 on a shared basis with RVC, have use of the White Hill library one extra day every weekday, and have some use of the gymnasium on days when RVC has exclusive use under the FUA.

 

RVC will continue to pay RVSD for all these spaces under the terms of the FUA, and White Hill would be using them at no cost to the District, as one of many informal arrangements made between two principals working out how to best share campus space in a way that works for both schools.  We would also be happy to work with the District level folks on these sharing arrangements.

Why is a state-approved charter school eligible to educate its public school students in public school facilities owned by a local school district?

Proposition 39, a component of California Education Code Section 47614, makes this possible. According to the California Department of Education, the intent of Prop 39 is that “public school facilities should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools.”

What formula must a district use to determine how much classroom space it allocates to a charter school that files a Prop 39 request?

The classroom space allocation formula is:

Projected district ADA divided by the # of classrooms in district elementary schools  =  ADA per classroom ratio

For the Ross Valley School District for the 2017-18 school year, this allocation formula yields a Prop 39 ADA/classroom ratio of 13, calculated as follows:

1,170 RVSD-anticipated ADA  ÷  90 classrooms on RVSD elementary school campuses (including empty classrooms)  = 13 ADA per classroom

You can read a summary of the 2015 California Supreme Court Case that decided this formula at RVSD’s Prop 39 law firm’s (Dannis Wolliver Kelley) website. It states:

“…the district must count the number of [physical] classrooms in the comparison group schools…[then], the district must use the resulting [classroom] number as the denominator in the ADA/classroom ratio for allocating classrooms to charter schools based on their projected ADA.”

Did RVSD follow the legally appropriate formula in allocating classrooms to RVC under Prop 39?

No, RVSD did not employ the appropriate formula. According to space allocation methodology required by 2015 California Supreme Court case CCSA vs. LAUSD, the District should have allocated 14 classrooms for RVC’s use, based on RVC’s then-projected in-District student enrollment of 189 (or 181.5 ADA, or Average Daily Attendance).

181.5 ADA  ÷  13 (the correct ADA per classroom ratio)  =  13.96 classrooms

(Click here to see a full discussion of the allocation formulas.)

Instead, the District offered 8 classrooms total, using “District loading maximums” -- RVSD’s teacher/student ratios -- an allocation methodology explicitly rejected in 2015 by the California Supreme Court. The District also failed to offer any space to RVC for art, music and aftercare (“specialized instruction” space) or an equivalent amount of special ed/intervention space as it is required to do under the regulations.

Why did RVC accept the District’s offer of only 8 classrooms?

RVC identified the discrepancy between the legally appropriate classroom allocation formula and the District’s actual offer in RVC’s March 1, 2017 response to the District’s preliminary offer. But the District did not adjust its final offer according to the law and therefore significantly under-allocated classrooms to RVC.

RVC had to choose in April 2017 whether to pursue legal action to require the District to follow the law or to accept the District’s final offer. To avoid a legal dispute, RVC decided to open the school with eight classrooms, believing it could successfully start its school in that space and limit the school to six or seven regular classrooms, plus a room or two for art/music/aftercare. Though RVC has a fundamental disagreement with the District regarding the correct facilities space allocation formula, RVC is grateful to have a school facility provided by the District and to be able to educate its students in a school that is open and thriving.

How will RVC affect class sizes and student and staff space at White Hill?

Class sizes at White Hill Middle School will not be affected by RVC being there. Locating RVC at the White Hill campus was a District decision. White Hill Middle School has capacity to educate all its 810 students on its campus without using the eight classrooms being leased by RVC. RVC is confident that there are better solutions for locating RVC in District-owned facilities, such as Red Hill in San Anselmo under an in lieu agreement to Prop 39. RVC encourages the District and community to consider and discuss other options with RVC.

ROSS VALLEY CHARTER AUTHORIZATION

Will RVC open in the Fall of 2017 for the 2017-18 school year?

Yes. The California State Board of Education — RVC’s authorizer — approved RVC to open in August 2017. RVC has accepted the District’s offer of 8 classrooms at the White Hill campus in Fairfax. All six founding RVC teachers have resigned from RVSD and will be teaching at RVC. RVC’s School Director has been an assistant principal at an award-winning public middle school. A special education teacher and an office manager have joined the RVC staff. RVC has been awarded a $375,000 federal Charter Start-Up Grant, has a $250,000 state four-year, low-interest Charter Start-Up Revolving Loan, and has $130,000 in cash reserves. Most importantly, there are registered students for at least six multiage classes and it is likely a seventh class, a third TK/K/1st, will be added.

In a May 3, 2017 email to local charter opponents who were writing the State Board of Education (SBE) seeking to stop the charter from opening in August 2017, the SBE explained that:

“As background, the State Board of Education unanimously approved the Ross Valley Charter School in January 2016. The State Board’s motion included a single condition that required the charter school to revise its petition and bylaws as specified by the California Department of Education. Ross Valley Charter School subsequently addressed this condition to the satisfaction of the California Department of Education.

In July 2016, the State Board of Education granted a material revision of the Ross Valley Charter Petition. The material revision granted the school the ability to postpone opening. Ross Valley Charter School has indicated intent to serve students beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

The State Board of Education and California Department of Education found that the Ross Valley Charter School petition was consistent with sound educational practice. Final approval has already been granted to Ross Valley Charter School. There is no further Board action anticipated for this charter in the immediate future.”

Charter opponents have tried to misinform the public with the assertion that the approval of RVC is conditional. As this letter from our authorizer states, final approval was granted to open this fall.

Is RVC a public school?

Yes, California Charter schools are part of the California Public School System and provide free, public educational choice to our community. Charter opponents try to misinform the public by claiming that RVC is not a public school, despite the fact that it is without a doubt a public school. The California Department of Education’s clear Definition of a Public School on its website includes eleven criteria, and RVC meets all eleven. Mary Jane Burke, Marin’s elected Superintendent of Public Schools has said repeatedly that “the bottom line is that charter schools are public schools.”

What was the basis for, and the outcome of, the RVC legal complaint brought to RVSD in November 2016?

RVC filed a complaint with the District in Marin Superior Court November 17, 2016, the day after the District sent an email stating that “student(s) identified by their ‘Intent to Enroll’ forms [in RVC] will not be allocated space in District programs for the 2017-18 school year and cannot be guaranteed continued enrollment in their current District school. Those submitting ‘Intent to Enroll’ forms with RVC who wish to maintain their student’s enrollment and current school placement in the Ross Valley School District for the 2017-18 school year, must notify us in writing that they withdraw their “Intent to Enroll” at RVC on or before 4:00pm on November 29, 2016.”  The date was important because the District had to respond in writing on December 1 whether it accepted RVC student projections and these ‘Intent to Enroll’ forms were RVC’s primary evidence of interest in attending.

Marin Superior Court Judge Howard stated in court on November 18th that he was very troubled by this apparent threat. After the District’s lawyer assured the judge that the District would not treat RVC-interested parents any differently than other District parents, RVC formally dropped the lawsuit.

RVC teachers, parents and representatives have repeatedly requested that the District meet to discuss solutions that would best serve all public school students in Ross Valley, and has noted the requirement under California law that “the establishment of charter schools should be encouraged” by districts. Declining to meet about any of these issues, RVSD has spent much more on lawyers resisting RVC than RVC has spent creating the school. RVC hopes that once lawyers have finished negotiating a Facilities Use Agreement for White Hill, both parties can build an amicable relationship going forward, reducing legal expenses for all involved.

What is RVC’s relationship with the California Charter School Association?

There are two charter school associations in California whose common purpose is to support existing charter schools and help parents and teachers start new charter schools to meet the continually growing demand in California public education for innovation and options. RVC belongs to both of these associations, the California Charter School Association and Charter Schools Development Center, as a school in development.

These memberships have allowed RVC to participate in in-person and online trainings needed to learn about starting and running a successful charter school and RVC could not be where it is today without the knowledge gained from these opportunities. This is no different than RVSD belonging to the California School Boards Association or its administrative officers belonging to their individual professional organizations to continually improve their knowledge and skills.

Finding facilities is the single largest challenge that charter schools face, so for all its members, CCSA funds legal fees for writing Prop 39 requests, which are legal documents. This support amounted to approximately $5,000 over the last year. CCSA also loaned RVC $18,000 for RVC’s lawsuit to require the District to treat RVC-interested parents the same as all other District parents should the District choose to overflow elementary school students to schools outside their assigned residence-area schools. CCSA was not involved in any way in the decision to either file the lawsuit or to drop it.  RVC has a $375,000 federal start up grant from the California Department of Education.  It has a $250,000 California Department of Finance low interest 4 year start-up loan.  It has also raised more than $80,000 in donations from local parents and their extended families over the last three years.  

Any claims that CCSA or other outsider parties are in charge of RVC are misguided. RVC is governed by a non-profit board of local educators, parents and community leaders to expand access to a longstanding and highly sought-after, progressive education program that was designed by members of our local community and operating successfully for many years. By design, half of the RVC board members are elected by RVC teachers and parents and are accountable to them.

RVC was inspired by a district program of choice (the MAP program) that was designed and launched 20 years ago by local parents and local district school teachers who wanted to create a different kind of environment for learning. The students and families in this program were generally very satisfied with this alternative and more progressive approach to education, and the wait list for the program was for many years long enough to double the size of the program overnight. Unfortunately, rather than embracing and expanding this program of choice to enable more waitlisted families to participate in it, the district chose to end it in 2016. Now RVC will carry forward the key ideas and practices (from MAP) of progressive, student-centered education so that more local families can have access to options within the free, public school system.

One of our RVC board members (since 2015), Kristi Kimball, is a local parent and community member with two school-aged children. She is also a full-time professional working in the education sector. In 2016, Kristi joined the board of the California Charter Schools Association. At that same time in 2016, Kristi was also a member (for more than 5 years) of the California Collaborative on District Reform, a professional learning community of some of the top district superintendents in the state, including Long Beach, Fresno, Garden Grove, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose and others. She is a past member of the board of Grantmakers for Education, the leading national association of education funders, and she has many professional connections with educators, district leaders, charter school leaders, and non-profit organizations working to improve the quality of education across all public schools.

Kristi is the person who introduced the principal and lead teachers at Manor Elementary school to the Expeditionary Learning (EL) school model, and she set up and participated in the first visit of the Manor school leadership to an EL school in Grass Valley. 

We are proud to have a board member who is both locally rooted in our community and also has enormous knowledge and expertise about innovative school models, effective professional development programs, curriculum and assessments, standards, project-based learning, as well as state and federal education policy and research.

How was RVC approved, and who authorized the school? What is the timeline for re-authorization?

The State California Department of Education (CDE) and Board of Education (SBE) have a rigorous process to evaluate charter school petitions. Both these bodies are staffed with professional educators appointed by state-elected officials. The CDE thoroughly reviewed RVC’s 400-page charter petition and recommended approval because it satisfied all the required elements, including a detailed description of the school’s educational program and a sustainable budget. The SBE unanimously approved the recommendation, which is unusual, with even the teacher union member voting ‘yes’.

The approval required RVC to slightly revise a few parts of the petition, and that has been done. Approval also is contingent on RVC securing a facility, which it has done. RVC has been given an official “County District School Code,” the last step in formal recognition.

RVC is currently one of only about 20 individual charter schools that are SBE-authorized. RVC’s authorization demonstrates that the SBE is confident in the strength of RVC’s education program and the 15 other required elements covered in its petition. RVC will apply for renewal of its charter for the 2020-21 school year and every five years.

Did the Ross Valley School District deny RVC's petition? How many schools have been approved by RVSD and by the Marin County Board of Education?

In the last 15 years, there have been several attempts by teachers or parents to create charter schools in Marin and all have been denied by Marin Districts. As a result, Marin has only four authorized charter schools , and only 1.5% of Marin K-12 students have access to charter schools compared to 10% statewide. In California, there are 1,254 charter schools serving 650,000 students.  18% of Marin K-12 students attend private schools, compared with about 8% statewide.

Both RVSD and Marin County denied RVC’s authorization in fall 2015 before the State Board of Education unanimously approved it in January 2016.

PROP 39 BACKGROUND

Why did RVC file a Prop 39 request for facilities?

Prop 39 is a statewide ballot measure passed in 2000 that provides that public charter school students have a right to facilities that are reasonably equivalent to District students’ facilities at a comparable cost. It provided a legal mechanism and timeline, including access to state court, to ensure that districts and charters comply with the law.

As a gesture of good will, RVC did not file a Prop 39 with its 2015 petition for 2016, stating in the petition that its first facilities choice would be to pay a market school rate for the District’s vacant closed school at Red Hill. The District response was to create a public bidding process in 2016 with lease terms so onerous that RVC was in the end the only bidder, despite the per square foot rate being half that of normal commercial space. Despite RVC being the only bidder in the final round, RVSD refused to negotiate with RVC and instead issued a 24-hour take-it-or-leave-it proposition that RVC could not legally accept, since under the Brown Act, RVC could not have a public board meeting with less than 24-hour notice in order to respond.

Since no other facilities could be found within the required Ross Valley District boundaries that are currently suitable for a school, RVC was forced to postpone opening for one year and file a Prop 39 in order to be able to open its school.

RVC still believes that Red Hill is the best facility option in this community and now there are millions of dollars of state bond funds available from last November’s Prop 53 to improve closed district schools for charter school use. By refusing to consider leasing Red Hill to RVC, the District is losing the opportunity for state bond funding to improve this deteriorating public asset. RVC continues to be interested in finding its own long-term campus within Ross Valley.

In a May 3, 2017 email to local charter opponents who were writing the State Board of Education (SBE) seeking to stop the charter from opening in August 2017, the SBE explained that:

“As background, the State Board of Education unanimously approved the Ross Valley Charter School in January 2016. The State Board’s motion included a single condition that required the charter school to revise its petition and bylaws as specified by the California Department of Education. Ross Valley Charter School subsequently addressed this condition to the satisfaction of the California Department of Education.

In July 2016, the State Board of Education granted a material revision of the Ross Valley Charter Petition. The material revision granted the school the ability to postpone opening. Ross Valley Charter School has indicated intent to serve students beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

The State Board of Education and California Department of Education found that the Ross Valley Charter School petition was consistent with sound educational practice. Final approval has already been granted to Ross Valley Charter School. There is no further Board action anticipated for this charter in the immediate future.”

Charter opponents have tried to misinform the public with the assertion that the approval of RVC is conditional. As this letter from our authorizer states, final approval was granted to open this fall.

Does Prop 39 require litigation?

About half of the autonomous charter schools in California are located in district facilities. Some of those are long-term, some are multi-year, some are in-lieu agreements, and some are Prop 39. Litigation is very uncommon. Most of the litigation has happened because school districts have not followed the law and charters have had to resort to the courts to encourage Districts to follow state law.

If RVSD and RVC both follow state Prop 39 regulations and precedent court decisions, there will be no need for further litigation.

What school site properties does RVSD own? Which of these properties are currently occupied by District students?

In addition to its four operational elementary schools (Brookside, Hidden Valley, Manor, and Wade Thomas) and White Hill Middle School, RVSD owns two school facilities that it is not using for its students. Red Hill School has approximately 14 classrooms, 10 of which are currently not rented. Deer Park School has about 10 classrooms plus a multipurpose room and kitchen. It is leased to the Fairfax San Anselmo Children’s Center for $92,700 a year.

Does Prop 39 require RVSD to provide space for RVC students for music, arts and aftercare programs at the school?

Districts are obligated to provide facilities for the same kind of activities that happen in District-owned facilities at other elementary schools, regardless of who pays for the programs. The District declined to do this in its offer for 2017-18. RVC chose not to litigate since it can open within the space provided, so RVC accepted the space as offered.

Does Prop 39 require RVSD to provide outdoor play space at the school?

Yes, play space is required in amounts and facilities reasonably equivalent to the per square foot per ADA at the other elementary schools. The District is providing this, except for a play structure. RVC has requested District permission for RVC to pay for and install a play structure that is compliant with Department of State Architecture certifications .

Does Prop 39 require RVSD to provide space for out-of-District students?

Out-of-District students are not counted in determining the number of classrooms offered to charters under Prop 39. But out-of-district students are allowed to use that space. State law requires that charter schools be open to all residents of California, although RVC is required in its admissions process to give preference to students residing within district boundaries. Once students are enrolled in RVC, they are guaranteed admission the next year whether they live within or outside District boundaries.

Will RVC file a Prop 39 request again?

Until the District is willing to negotiate a lease for Red Hill or RVC finds another suitable facility within District boundaries (as required by the State Board of Education), RVC will be filing a Prop 39 request every year.

Could RVC be located at an RVSD property other than White Hill?

RVC requested, in its Prop 39 request, to lease the Red Hill school campus. Its second choice was to minimize inconvenience to District families by splitting RVC onto two elementary campuses that have enough classroom space to accommodate this without overflowing any students to other campuses. The District chose instead to offer RVC space at White Hill.

Is RVC litigious?

RVC has made every effort to establish its school using a process that meets every legal requirement. It expects all parties involved to also act in accordance with the law.

The only time RVC filed a legal complaint during this process is in November 2016 when the District illegally threatened students whose parents were interested in attending RVC with being moved from their existing school if their parents did not formally withdraw their statement of interest. When the District promised the Marin court it would not treat RVC students any differently than other District students, RVC withdrew the complaint.

If the District complies with state laws, including the Prop 39 law, regulations, and legal precedents, RVC will not have a reason to pursue legal action.

Does RVC pay for the District space it occupies?

Yes, Under Prop 39 charters are required to pay the same amount per square foot that the District pays for its facilities out of its general fund dollars, which excludes bond funds. RVC has agreed to pay $84,245 for facilities at White Hill for the 2017-18 school year.

RVC AND RVSD ENROLLMENT

How many students must be enrolled in RVC for it to comply with conditions for its authorization?

If, at any time during the next four years of operation, RVC has fewer than 165 or more than 277 students attending school, it needs to request a material revision to its petition with the CDE and go back through the same four-month appeals process it went through between October 2015 through January 2016 for its initial SBE authorization and between April 2016 through July 2016 for SBE permission to delay opening for one year.

Is enrollment of 220 students required for RVC’s financial viability?

No, Charter schools typically start out with as few as four classes. RVC plans to submit a 3-year budget that for 2017-18 has seven classes and 172 students and a contingency budget for six classes. Both budgets produce a surplus and an ending balance reserve that is greater than 6%, including a Prop 39 under-enrollment penalty that RVC might pay for over-projection of in-District students.

Is enrollment of 189 in-District students as stated in the Prop 39 request required?

No, RVC is not required to have 189 registered students to be in compliance with its Prop 39 request. There is a formula in the Prop 39 regulations that is used to calculate a penalty that charter schools pay to districts when they do not meet the projected in-district student enrollment that the district accepted. RVC will pay this penalty if necessary and an estimate will be included in the budgets that are submitted.

Is RVSD enrollment declining?

Yes, RVSD enrollment is declining. RVSD enrolled 92 fewer students in 2016-17 compared to 2015-16, and is forecasting losing 97 additional students in 2017-18, and 38 more students in 2018-19, for a total decline of 227 students in three years, not including any District students leaving to attend RVC. In the last 25 years, the District has never experienced decreasing enrollment three years in a row, and the most it has lost over two years is 75 students. These numbers do not include any of the students currently attending RVSD schools who may attend RVC, which will likely be additional 80 or more students to the 227 currently projected decline.

Can RVC accept students outside the RVSD residence area boundaries?

Charter schools are required to accept students who reside anywhere in California, but in-District students have an enrollment preference in any lottery that is held. Once they enroll, all existing students of RVC will be exempt from the lottery, both by law and the RVC petition.

Will out-of-District residence students be required to re-apply to RVC every year?

No, out-of-District residence area students will not be required to re-apply to RVC once they have enrolled. All existing students, whether in- or out-of-District, are, if they wish, automatically enrolled in the following year, according to both state law and the RVC petition.

What proportion of RVC students are classified as low-income (Free and Reduced Price Lunch-qualifying FRPL) and English Learners (EL)? What proportion of RVSD students are in these categories?

District percentages are 10% FRPL and 4% EL. RVC has set enrollment goals in its petition to exceed these percentages and to be more diverse than the District. RVC goals are 12% for FRPL and 6% for EL. Considering currently registered students, RVC expects to exceed both targets. RVC has put considerable effort into outreach to attract a diverse student and parent body and it has had considerable success.

What was the average RVSD TK-3rd and 4th-5th grade class size in 2016-17?

For the last 10 years in RVSD, K-3rd class sizes have averaged around 21 students and 4th-5th around 23 students.

RVC AND RVSD FINANCES

Is RVC financially viable? Who is responsible for RVC budget oversight?

RVC is financially viable with current enrollment numbers. In June 2017, RVC will be submitting a budget for 7 classrooms and a contingency budget with 6 classrooms that both show operating surpluses in the first year and well over the required 6% reserves at the end of the year. The California Department of Education oversees the RVC budget.

What is ADA funding?

ADA stands for Average Daily Attendance upon which state and federal revenue for schools is based. In the Ross Valley District, ADA has traditionally run at around 96%, meaning that an enrollment of 1,000 students would translate into a 960 ADA.

What are RVC’s funding sources?

All RVC funding sources are from the state and federal government, with the exception of $75,000 that is budgeted as fundraising. On a per-student basis, this $75,000 per year is less than District parents donate on average to their schools and the YES Foundation combined. Since RVC will not be affiliated with YES, RVC will do its own fundraising for arts enrichment school programs.

How is the RVSD budget affected by enrollment decline and what part does RVC play in this situation?

RVSD enrolled 92 fewer students in 2016-17 compared to 2015-16. This enrollment drop happened before RVC opened, so this decline was not due to RVC. The District chose not to make any budget cuts in 2016-17 even though it experienced this significant decline in enrollment. RVSD instead decided to maintain spending at a higher level, even though revenues had declined by more than $700,000 due to having 92 fewer students.

Now, in the 2017-18 school year, the District is projecting an additional decline of 97 students not including the students who will be enrolled at RVC. This decline would reduce District revenues by another $750,000. 

None of this revenue reduction is related to RVC.

If 100 additional students that might otherwise attend District elementary schools choose to enroll in RVC (in addition to the 227 District-projected non-RVC-related enrollment decline), the District would experience a revenue decline of an additional $780,000 to the $1.45 million it is experiencing because of reasons unrelated to RVC.

However, in the case of attrition due to RVC, the RVC teachers who are resigning from RVSD represent a reduction of District expense of $600,000 for salary and benefits, resulting in a net impact on the District of only $180,000. This represents only 10% of the District’s overall $1.8 million shortfall and less than 1% of its total budget.

ROSS VALLEY CHARTER HISTORY

For RVCs history, click here.

What was the conclusion of the discrimination complaint that a parent filed against the District MAP program in 2014?

The investigator found no intentional discrimination on the part of the District and its MAP program, but his report did say that District practices resulted in fewer EL and FRPL students being enrolled in MAP than at Manor School, where MAP classrooms were located. When a program of choice is not actively marketed to diverse communities, those communities won’t know about it and will inevitably be under represented. Early in the current decade, the District discouraged MAP from marketing its program and did not actively provide information to incoming families about MAP. RVC is now controlling its own marketing and its diversity numbers are significantly higher than District averages.

For more about the history of RVC, click here