School Board okays Chipman charter
The School Board voted 5-0 Tuesday night to approve The Academy of Alameda Middle School charter. The school, which is being eyed as a replacement for Chipman Middle School, is expected to be up and running next fall.
“Now comes the hard part,” Bill Schaff, vice president of the school’s founding board, told The Island on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then.”
Those tasks include enrollment, staffing and finalizing an agreement with the school district. The district must also tell the charter’s leaders by April 1 whether they will be able to set up shop in Chipman’s current Pacific Avenue location, though Schaff said he hopes they’ll find out sooner than that.
The charter has set up a website where families can get information and enrollment forms (and I’ve got the forms below, too). Though founders are setting up the school to cater students in Chipman’s existing attendance zone, it is open to students all over the Island.
Trustee Trish Hererra Spencer, who had issued some of the most vocal concerns about the proposed charter, ultimately made the motion to approve it. Spencer said she was worried that the charter’s expectation that parents contribute 20 hours a year to the school could scare away some of the families the school’s founders intend to reach out to. (The list of activities in the charter includes in-school activities like lunch monitor and garden coordinator, attending meetings and parent-teacher conferences and at-home help.)
“At this point, legally, it’s not a reason to deny the petition,” Hererra Spencer said Wednesday. And she said she hopes the school is successful in improving the academic performance of its students.
School Board President Ron Mooney and Trustee Niel Tam had issued concerns at an earlier meeting regarding outreach to non-English speaking families and families in the Coast Guard and living in transitional housing in the Alameda Point Collaborative. Schaff said the school’s founders have begun their outreach efforts and will be asking the district for help.
It was not clear Wednesday where students in the Chipman attendance zone would go to school if they opted not to sign up for the charter. District officials did not return a call seeking comment.
Parents and teachers chose to develop the charter proposal to satisfy the strictures of the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires schools that are unable to meet each of their testing targets for four years running to take radical action, with options that include shutting down, firing every teacher or going charter.