Why Montebello Unified may be in for a fight over its offer of space to two new charter schools.
Montebello Unified School District’s Board of Education approved offers of space at two charter schools but in both cases the district appears to be in conflict.
The board on a 5-0 vote on Wednesday, March 17 offered TIME (Teamwork, Individualization, Mastery and Extension) Community School, a high school, seven classrooms, space for administration and science and technology labs at Montebello High — all in its “D Wing” on the southwest part of the campus.
But the board also voted to stop negotiations about using all of Vail High School, the district’s continuation school, with board members saying they don’t want to close any of their schools.
But in this case, there is disagreement over the $12 per square foot cost the district officials contend TIME should pay the district. It amounts to more than $400,000.
Kaivan Yuen, assistant superintendent, educational services said the proposed rate would be TIME’S pro-rata share.
However, Gabriel Ramirez, Time Community School’s executive director, in a Thursday telephone interview said the price was twice as much as it should be.
“There were some miscalculations because the rate is among the highest in the state,” Ramirez said. “It makes it unachievable for any school to be able to operate.
The second conflict is between the district and KIPP SoCal Public School, which wants to use a portion of Bella Vista Elementary School.
The board, also on a 5-0 vote, instead offered the charter school a two-story building that has a multipurpose room, two computer labs, a science lab but no classrooms, at Joseph Gascon Elementary School in East Los Angeles.
The fact Gascon will lose no classrooms is why Kaivan Yuen, assistant superintendent, educational services, recommended Gason over Bella Vista.
“At Gascon, there is no movement because the classrooms we’re offering are currently empty,” Yuen told the board.
“At Bella Vista, two classroom teachers would have to relocate,” he said. “The adult school classroom for the child care program would have to be relocated or shared as well. There’s definitely more movement at the Bella Vista site than the Gascon site.”
Both negotiations are under the auspices of Proposition 39, a ballot measure approved by California voters in 2000. School districts must make facilities (including both classroom and non-classroom spaces) available to charter schools serving students who reside in the district.
If they don’t, the charter school could file a lawsuit, attorneys for the district have advised the board.
The next step in the negotiations, which began last fall when TIME and KIPP submitted written requests for facilities, will come on April 1 when the district must submit its final offer.
Charter schools must notify the district in writing to accept or decline the final offer by May 1.
Parents from both Gascon and Buena Vista asked the board to save their schools.
“The four classrooms they will take over are not by any means empty,” Marlene Ramirez, a Bella Vista parent, said.
“Where will these kids go?” Ramirez asked. Bella Vista would have to give up its computer lab, library or space for special needs to accommodate this displacement.
Veronica Veramontes, a parent at Gascon, said her school is already overcrowded.
“Why choose Gascon when you have 600 students,” Veramontes said.
Cristina Barrera, spokeswoman for KIPP, didn’t return an email seeking comment.