Gilroy Prep charter school gets green light

 

The Gilroy Prep School Charter petition received unanimous votes
of approval Thursday night from the Gilroy Unified School District
Board of Education. Petitioners Karen Waller, Karen Humber and
Kristyn Corley received applause and handshakes in the GUSD
building lobby from fellow colleagues and supporters after the 7:30
p.m. meeting.
The Gilroy Prep School Charter Petition received unanimous votes of approval Thursday night from the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education.

Petitioners Karen Waller, Karen Humber and Kristyn Corley – all veteran educators who’ve collaborated with board trustees and district cabinet members during months of careful petition and budget revisions – received applause and handshakes in the GUSD building lobby from fellow colleagues and supporters after the 7:30 p.m. meeting.

A resolution compiled by senior district cabinet members was presented to the board Thursday, stating the district’s approval for the charter’s petition.

Stipulations included a two-year operating period commencing July 1, 2011 and continuing through June 30, 2013; mandating a Memorandum of Understanding between charter founders and the GUSD – regarding logistics such as fees, costs and expenses; the allocation of facilities; and an enrollment clause stating the charter must have 60 students for each level of kindergarten, first and second grades.

Come June 30, 2013, the resolution provides if the board observes Gilroy Prep School has satisfied its commitments to students, and is in compliance with the terms of the petition, parties will facilitate renewal procedures for the school for another five years.

“We feel if (petitioners) can make it through the first two years, they’re going to make it,” said Superintendent Deborah Flores as she addressed board members and meeting attendees. “But state budgets are predictably worse. Cash flow is a problem for even a large district like ours. So we are concerned about the first two years. If they can get through that, they’ll be back in front of us for a five-year renewal.”

Several board members took a moment to address petitioners directly, noting the capstone moment that was finally at hand. It’s been 10 years since Waller, a speech therapist at Luigi Aprea Elementary School, was first inspired to found a charter in Gilroy.

Trustees offered praise and accolades for the founders’ committed persistence; particularly their ability to meet repeated requests for multiple phases of revisions. Congratulations were also balanced by caution and warning, however, as members expressed perceptive awareness of obstacles to come.

“The signs of the financial clouds that are in front of us are very significant, and nobody knows where that is going to take us,” said trustee Jaime Rosso. “Get ready to weather a big storm.”

Trustee Tom Bundros said he’s excited for the fresh attitude charter founders are bringing to the system.

“Part of what you’re doing is also a laboratory to explore new ways of approaching education,” he said. “And I think that’s really important.”

Trustee Mark Good took care to thank the petitioners for the effort put forth.

“Hopefully this will be a long, successful relationship,” he said.

Rhoda Bress, also a trustee, commended petitioners and GUSD staff.

“At one point, it seemed like this was never going to happen,” said Bress.

She emphasized the boards’ high expectations for accountability, academics and fiscal responsibility.

“That’s the tone for now, and that’s the tone for the future,” she said. “I don’t think we’re going to know anything more than we do at this point. It’s time to take the next step.”

Gilroy Prep School

Grades: kindergarten, first, second

Number of students needed: 60 per grade

Possible Location: The former location of El Portal Leadership Academy on IOOF Avenue next to South Valley Junior High School in Gilroy.

Next steps needed to be taken: Petitioners will apply for a for a charter number from the state. Then they’ll go through an application process for a start up grant and loan from the California Department of Education. Enrollment will go from December through March. Parents wishing to enroll their children can visit http://gps.isoars.com/ for additional and current information.

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