Charter 6-12 school waiting for permits to open


Morgan Hill – A sixth-through-12th-grade charter school is just
a few signatures away from moving into Morgan Hill.
Morgan Hill – A sixth-through-12th-grade charter school is just a few signatures away from moving into Morgan Hill. Silicon Valley Flex Academy is waiting on approval of permits before its Executive Director Mark Kushner will officially confirm the school’s location and whether the school will open its doors in this fall, Kushner said Monday.

“We’re working on a number of very promising permanent sites,” Kushner added; a temporary site is in lieu of a few places along Cochrane Road that Kushner is pursuing because of the availability of large, open-space facilities.

The Flex charter school would not charge tuition and would be open to any sixth-through-11th graders who live within Santa Clara County. Charter schools, such as Flex, are funded by the state and also private donations with guidelines outlined in each school’s charter. Charter schools are not governed by the same laws as public schools and often do not have bargaining agreements with its employees, similar to some private schools.

Kushner said more than 150 students have applied for 250 spaces that are open now on a first-come, first-serve basis. Kushner, a lecturer in the School of Education at Stanford University and chair on the California Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, has been interviewing for principal, teachers and other staff, though he’s waiting on the permits to go through before hiring any staff.

Flex Academy uses K12 Inc. curriculum and follows the state’s standards in terms of content. The school is referred to as a “clicks and bricks” model because students spend most of their time in front of a computer, though still in a classroom/library type setting. Flex students work at their own pace, and their progress can be accessed by parents at any moment throughout the day.

The content is not innovative, Kushner said, though the schools’ 130 elective courses are. Students can take Chinese, video-game design, green technology and marketing. Kushner hosted a public meeting in February and said the traditional public school is “a good 18th-century model.” Flex lets students work with the latest technology and in a model more similar to the workforce they will enter after college, Kushner said at the meeting.

Flex Academy isn’t affiliated with Morgan Hill Unified in any way, but Kushner did say he had some productive phone conversations with Superintendent Wes Smith about possibly renting a MHUSD site for their use. Smith, however, said no district sites were available. The news didn’t jar Kushner because his brainchild is designed for a location with more open space and fewer walls.

The first Flex Academy high school opened in San Francisco in October and three more campuses were approved by the Santa Clara County Board of Education. Most students who have applied live within MHUSD boundaries, though some students are from Gilroy, Hollister and South San Jose.

“I feel good about getting the permit. We’re very close to confirming,” Kushner said.

A community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Community Church, 305 West Main Ave. Though don’t expect any big announcements, Kushner said, it’s planned as an information session for interested parents and students.

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