Nea charter hits language snag
Tonight, the school board will again discuss postponing approval of an agreement between Alameda Unified at the Nea Community Learning Center, a K-12 charter that is slated to open this fall. No date to sign the agreement has been set, according to one of the school’s founders, though she said she is confident the agreement will be signed.
“We’re having trouble with the language,” said Maafi Gueye, one of the school’s founders, who characterized the negotiations with the district as amicable. A key point to be worked out, Gueye said, is working out the details about how Nea will provide special education services.
Separately, Nea and the district are negotiating over a space for the charter. The district has three spaces it is not using for K-12 instruction and has submitted one to Nea for its consideration.
Meanwhile, Nea’s founders are taking applications for the school, which is slated to offer instruction in grade K-10 this fall. Gueye said that so far, she has received 425 applications for 308 slots, including more than 50 applications for 20 kindergarten slots and more than 80 applications for incoming sixth graders. Gueye said that the pool included 111 students who are home schooled or attending private schools, though that number is from earlier this month. The school has also received interest from out-of-district students.
Gueye said the application deadline is Friday. More information and applications are available on Nea’s website. Gueye said that after the applications are collected, the school will hold a lottery for the spots and create a waiting list for students who aren’t selected, opening applications again if there are slots available. (The school is modeled on the existing Alameda Community Learning Center charter high school.)
“We’ll unfortunately probably have to turn some kids away,” Gueye said.
We shot a quick e-mail to School Board President Mike McMahon last night for comment but couldn’t reach him by press time.
The school board voted against the Nea charter in January 2008, saying they feared the school population would not reflect the district’s racial diversity and that its plan relied too much on the district to supplement its offerings. The county Board of Education, which heard a subsequent appeal of that decision, “reluctantly” followed suit. Nea’s leaders updated their proposal and resubmitted it in the fall, and it was approved last November pending the signing of the agreement with the district. The agreement was originally slated to be signed on January 31.
Tonight’s agenda also includes a discussion of the school district’s finances in light of a just-passed federal stimulus package and just-signed state budget. On his website, McMahon says the stimulus package should net the district $2.7 million, largely for special education, construction and to aid low-income students. The board is also slated to hear from parents who want the district to deal with kindergarten overenrollment on the East End sooner, rather than later.