FAQs – RVC and the Ross Valley School District

Map of Ross Valley School District

 

How does RVC impact the District’s finances?

For every student that attends public school, the school district receives per-student funding from the state. When a student leaves a public school to attend private school, homeschool or move away, the state discontinues its funding to the school for that student. When a student moves from one public school to another public school, the per-student state funding follows the student.

In this current 2016-17 school year, 98 fewer students enrolled in RVSD schools than in the 2015-16 school year. Next year this decline is expected to continue, regardless of the existence of RVC.

The district has budgeted revenue loss for 2017-18 due to RVC students leaving the district at $883,116, and the associated expense reduction is $614,096 for salary and benefits of the six teachers leaving for the charter, resulting in a NET revenue impact for 2017-18 of $269,020.  This will be further reduced by smaller expenses for books, supplies, insurance, PE, and services for the 117 students who leave the District. This NET loss represents 1% of the District’s $23 million budget for next year.

Public K-5 school options within Ross Valley School District geographic boundaries in fall 2017 will include RVSD schools, WISE Academy and RVC. RVC will bring dozens of local families (and the resulting state revenue) back into the public school system, benefiting the system as a whole.

 

Does RVSD pay for RVC to operate?

No. Except for the Prop 39 obligations for which it will be reimbursed at cost, RVSD has no financial relationship with RVC.

 

How many students will leave RVSD for RVC?

RVC’s projection of its fall 2017 enrollment of students living within RVSD boundaries is 189 students. Only 117 of these students currently attend District schools. These projections have been adopted by the District for both budgetary and Prop 39 purposes.

Back to top

 

Is there any option under Prop 39 that does NOT displace RVSD students?

RVC would prefer that no RVSD students be displaced. To this end, two options were suggested in RVC’s Prop 39 request:  

  1. Renting Red Hill in an “in lieu” agreement.
  2. Occupying 7 classrooms at Manor, plus 3 at Brookside (rooms which are projected to be available given enrollment projections).

 

Why did RVC file a complaint in Marin Superior Court against the District?

On December 17, 2016, RVC filed a complaint against the District because the District had just sent an illegal email to all district parents stating that any parent who had signed an RVC Prop 39 Intent to Enroll form, who did not withdraw that Prop 39 statement of interest by November 29, would lose their right to keep their children at their existing elementary school next year. Not surprisingly, scores of parents who had signed these forms were distressed by this threat, which violated both state and federal law, as well as District Board policy.

Under Prop 39 regulations, the District had until December 1st to officially accept or deny RVC’s enrollment projections. The District typically asks parents about their plans to re-enroll in their District school for preliminary planning purposes in February, not November.  

The Prop 39 structure for new schools like RVC is based on charter schools’ forecasting enrollment in part by submitting parents’ statements of “meaningful interest in enrolling.” State regulations make clear that “meaningful interest” is not a commitment, as did the form parents signed in October, as well as confirmation emails that 90% of these parents sent the District in November.

If school districts can threaten in writing to remove elementary school students from their existing school in the next school year simply because their parents are “meaningfully interested in enrolling” in a charter school, then there will be no Prop 39 right for any more new charter schools in California.

On December 18, 2016, Marin Superior Court Judge Howard told the District that he could see how these emails were perceived as a threat. He told the District he found its emails very troubling and that if a substantial number of parents withdrew their statement of intent as requested by the District he would expect to see both parties in court again and might well rule in favor of RVC.

In order to avoid the Temporary Restraining Order that RVC was seeking against these perceived threats, District counsel told Judge Howard this was all a misunderstanding and the District had no intention of treating parents interested in RVC any differently than other District parents. On November 30th Dr. Bagley officially accepted RVC’s enrollment projections. RVC subsequently withdrew the legal complaint.

Mediation is a great tool for parties to have productive discussions in a protective setting. Even though it denied RVCs petition appeal, we believe the Marin County Office of Education would be a fair facilitator to assist RVC and RVSD in finding a facilities solution that does not dislocate existing students. Only the District can decide whether to pursue this conversation or move forward with its current proposal despite community objections.

Back to top

 

When will RVC teachers give notice to the District that they are resigning?

The six petitioning RVC teachers are long-term, tenured employees of RVSD. They will give notice of their resignations to RVSD when RVCs site is confirmed and students are enrolled. As the District asserted in its February 2016 workshop, if the charter school does not open, the students that the District is currently projecting to leave for the charter school will not leave, so the District does not have to lay off teachers in March.

 

Why should families have more than one public school to choose from?

Many people move to San Anselmo and Fairfax for the schools, and it is this choice which brings revenue to the District. Each district receives per-student state funding for each child it educates. The state funding follows these children to the public school district they choose to attend.

In RVSD, there are four elementary schools, but in recent years, very few families have been able to choose to attend a school that is not their single designated school according to District-constructed boundaries. In fall 2017 there will be three distinct public school options within the RVSD geographic boundaries (RVSD schools, WISE Academy and RVC), plus two other charter schools in the county, and still many families will elect to homeschool or attend private schools located throughout Marin County. Our public high school district contains four schools and families can choose to attend any of them, each one highly regarded but distinct in many ways. These many options enrich our community. RVC supports every family’s desire to find the best-fit option for their own child’s education.

State law encourages the establishment of charter schools as a means to better meet the educational needs of more children, as it recognizes having a variety of options will result in more children learning well and thriving. Once RVC is underway, it will simply be another public school in our community.

Back to top

 

Can RVC locate outside Ross Valley School District boundaries or find a site that is not owned by the District?

RVC chose not to submit a Prop 39 request in fall 2015 (for its originally planned opening in 2016) because school leaders decided that first, every effort would be made to either rent commercial space or negotiate with the District to rent Red Hill. RVC communicated this plan clearly to the District. Since neither of those scenarios materialized, RVC decided in spring 2016 to delay its opening to 2017 and submit a Prop 39 request to secure a school site.

RVC is required by the State Board of Education to locate within District boundaries. 

RVC researched and considered many different potential locations within these boundaries during the past year, but found no available non-District-owned property that could accommodate 220 students.

Are charter schools intended only for less affluent areas?

In Rick Bagley’s (RVSD Superintendent) testimony to the California State Board of Education in January 2016, he asked the Board to deny the RVC petition because Ross Valley is wealthy and the schools are highly rated.

State Board Member Williams’ response to Dr. Bagley’s assertion was:  “First I want to say to Dr. Bagley that I have absolutely no doubt that Ross Valley School District is a fabulous school district and it has tremendous support from its teachers and its parent community and that is not even a question on the table; that has nothing to do with this. Even within a totally fabulous school district, and there are a lot of them in California, there can be a case where parents feel they want a different kind of instructional methodology and environment for their children. That is not a criticism of the school district but an issue of what they feel like would work best for their particular philosophy as a parent and their student’s own needs. And that is also a legitimate reason for why charter schools get started… In the 1992 law enacting charter schools there were specific reasons given for the legislative intent for the creation of charter schools including:

  • Improve student learning.
  • Increase learning opportunities for all pupils.
  • Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods.
  • Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site.
  • Provide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities and models that are available within the school system.”

Video of State Board hearing here. Quoted text above is at 4:41:00.

 

 

Can RVC be a private school instead of a public school?

RVC was created as a public charter school because its founders believe that all children should have the right to additional public school options, regardless of income. It is a consideration of equity. We do not believe that ability to pay should be the only way parents can have access to school options that best fit their child’s learning style or their own philosophy of education.

While the seven other Bay Area suburban counties average around 9% of total K-12 students in charter schools and 9% in private schools, Marin has 1.5% in charter schools and 18% in private schools.

 

Is RVC a private charter?

In California, charter schools are public schools. They are tuition-free like all public schools. As the California Charter Schools Association states on its website, “In exchange for operational freedom and flexibility, charter schools are subject to higher levels of accountability than traditional public schools. Charter schools, which are tuition-free and open to all students, offer quality and choice in the public education system.” Learn more about charter schools in California here.

Back to top

 

Are there other charter schools in Marin?

Marin is vastly different than any of its neighboring counties in terms of public charter school options. While the seven other Bay Area suburban counties average around 9% of total K-12 students in charter schools and 9% in private schools, Marin has 1.5% in charter schools and 18% in private schools. As young millennial families in San Francisco look for a suburban county to raise their children, will Marin be the only county where few charter school options are available? We are confident that RVC will attract families to Marin and bring more students back into our public school system which countywide is now experiencing declining enrollment.

 

What is Edtec? Why does RVC work with a private company?

Edtec is a company that provides supporting business services for charter schools. Edtec helped to develop RVC’s budget included in its charter petition. RVC may also use Edtec software for its business services. RVC is a grassroots non-profit 501c(3) organization, not sponsored by a private corporation or charter management organization.

All school entities engage the services of and purchase supplies from private companies, including business services like payroll management, professional development services like education consultants, and educational products such as textbooks, technology products and standardized testing services.

 

How many students must RVC have in order to open?

In order to submit a Prop 39 (request for classrooms) request, a charter school must show that it has at least 80 in-District students who are “meaningfully interested in enrolling.” RVC submitted its Prop 39 request on November 1, 2016 with Intent to Enroll signatures from the parents of 177 in-District students (collected in October 2016), and a projection of an additional 12 kindergartners, for a total projected enrollment of 189 students. Ross Valley School District accepted RVC’s projected enrollment on November 30, 2016, so now must provide classrooms in 2017-18 for 189 students according to California state law. Since the District has accepted RVC’s projected enrollment, the 80-student minimum is no longer relevant in the Prop 39 process. RVC currently has about 250 active applications and/or admitted students.
 

If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please contact us.

Back to top