Charter school offered space on WHS campus


An offer of school facilities is on the table to Everest Public High School for the 2010-11 school year. It comes from the Sequoia Union High School District, which fought unrelentingly to prevent Everest from opening its doors to its first freshman class last August.

The district is now offering to relocate Everest's freshman and sophomore classes from 18,000-square-feet in a well-equipped office building in Redwood City, where the school has a two-year lease, to a one-year stint on the campus of Woodside High School, where the school would have eight classrooms plus an administrative office.

The offer comes in the context of a lawsuit. Everest is suing the Sequoia district, claiming that the district acted illegally in offering to house Everest in several modular classroom buildings for two years in residential East Palo Alto.

Jim Lianides, an assistant superintendent for the Sequoia district, outlined the new offer on Wednesday, Jan. 27, to the district's governing board, with representatives from Everest and Woodside High in attendance.

Diane Tavenner, co-founder of Everest, said she asked the district for an advance copy of the offer before the board meeting and was refused. Ms. Tavenner had no comment on the preliminary offer.

The district plans to mail a detailed offer to Everest officials on Monday, Feb. 1, Mr. Lianides said. Everest would have a month to evaluate it, followed by a month to allow the district to prepare a final offer. Everest would then have 30 days to accept or reject it.

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Posted by Simple Simon
a resident of Oak Knoll School
on Jan 30, 2010 at 11:16 am

Wow. I can't wait to see what this mysterious, top-secret one-year offer will look like! Is this "Christmas in February" or last-minute posturing before going to court?

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Posted by open government???
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:24 am

I don't get it. This offer was talked about during a public school board meeting, but information about it wasn't made available in advance to Everest when it was requested? How can that be legal? According to my reading of the Brown Act, it's not. How can these guys get away with this kind of crap? And we're supposed to think they're acting in good faith?

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:45 am

So let me understand, the board is making what it believes is a good offer, yet they aren't comfortable letting Everest see it in advance? Doesn't sound like a cooperative approach or one demonstrating good faith.
Imagine that the board offers space for a year and agrees to cover Everest's lease in return for dropping the suit. It allows everyone to move forward. But it looks like SUHSD is always looking to see what it can get away with or how to make things tougher for the charter schools.
Imagine that SUHSD was cooperating with Summit/Everest about best practices. I read somewhere that San Jose was asking the Summit/Everest group to set up a charter in their district. Are there opportunities for the district to get extra funding with the Race to the Top efforts?
A little gesture would not be difficult but it remains difficult to understand the motivations of SUHSD.

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Posted by Stan
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm

It is my understanding Everest requested to be placed on one of SUHSD comprehensive campuses and asked for full use of the facilities. It seems like that is what SUHSD offer them.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Woodside School
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Except that the SUHSD refused that request and Everest was forced to make other arrangements.

No one should be surprised if the charter school doesn't leap at the district's new offer. The management of the SUHSD is shameless.

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Posted by Interested taxpayer
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 1, 2010 at 5:16 pm

If "Stan" were on the Board of Everest. I wonder if he would recommend that they give up their centrally located and well equipped leased facility "for a one year stint at Woodside High". Any thought as to what happens after one year at Woodside (during which the pending lawsuit is settled), Stan? Maybe a new offer at another SUHSD? Or maybe an empty crime scene lot with some portable classrooms?

Charter schools like Summit and Everest are here to stay because they produce results for almost all of their lottery-selected students. SUHSD meets the needs of Mr. Gemma & Co. and perhaps 20% of the students.

These facts are about to be uncovered in spite of SUHSD's shameful distortions.

I have read that Bill Gates appeared at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this month promoting a new documentary, "Waiting For Superman". The film investigates the dysfunctional United States public education system and will be distributed world-wide this Fall.

Apparently, our own SUHSD is featured as a model of dysfunction.

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Gemma spins this one.

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Posted by Everest Parent
a resident of Woodside School
on Feb 2, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I'd like to keep an open mind, but this vague announcement reeks of the Shuffle Game SUHSD has run before. Maybe Trustee Thomsen can shed some light on this? A win-win would be very nice to have here. But truthfully, the present Everest campus is very nice and very accessible. I thought Woodside was one of the schools that is over-enrolled? That is why Sequoia was identified as the most likely campus to be able to accommodate the Charter school short-term.

I would say that this point, forget about the short-term one-year solution and start working on the long-term solution that is legally compliant. That is where your energy should be focussed.

SUHSD you have to earn our trust. What we have not seen is any sincere overture on the part of the District to mend bridges with Summit/Everest. Both schools will have waiting lists next year and beyond.

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Posted by stay put
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm

If the feeder schools into the Sequoia District will be feeling the pains of increased enrollment in the next few years, then certainly the Sequoia District, despite new buildings on all of its campuses, will also soon be sorely missing the schools that it sold off decades ago(San Carlos and Ravenswood). It's almost a blessing that the charter schools have come into being to relieve the increased enrollment that will soon occur. There is no room on the campuses. Or even if there now is, it will be short term.
Kudos to the Las Lomitas school district for finding a way to keep their old campuses available should they be needed.

Like this comment
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I am sure that they could not show Everest personnel the offer because it needed to be first approved by the Board and made public that way. There are proper procedural rules to follow in these situations. Everest is no exception to the rule no matter what you think!

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Woodside High School
on Feb 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm

You may be sure... but you are wrong.

Government bodies can share offers, counteroffers and offers of settlement with adversaries prior to a public disclosure. It's a specific carve out of the Brown Act.

The district's failure to provide this courtesy to Everest is just another example of tin-eared management, poor legal advice or more likely, both.

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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Speaking of sharing confidential information, recall that prior to the SUHSD election that everest scrambled to get data and provided it to SUHSD only to have Trustee Gibson abuse it and use it against the school. I agree with Everest parent that it would be nice for the district to make a few, even small, goodwill gestures and unwind some of the acrimony. The fact that it didn't happen certainly raises suspicions about any offer. I hope to be wrong as it is certainly wasteful for both SUHSD and Everest to be in a fight about this. Perhaps Trustee Thompsen can help here.

Like this comment
Posted by Woodside resident
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Feb 3, 2010 at 7:41 pm

From the articles I have read about this offer, the Woodside admin were not informed about the offer until the day before the board meeting. Sounds like SUHSD needed to finish the offer before presenting it to Everest.

I am all for alternatives, but everyone makes it sound so easy to produce facilities over night. Two new schools within a decade with the expectation to materialize facilities that are equal to campuses that took anywhere from 50--100+ years to establish? At the same time, the SUHSD also faces budget shortages and is responsible for 8,000 other students.

Look, bravo to Summit and Everest, but there is the law and then there are realities.

Good luck to all the teachers out there, no matter where you work!

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