Representatives of the Menlo Mandarin Immersion Charter School have issued their response to the San Mateo County Office of Education's analysis of their petition to open a charter school in the Menlo Park City School District next fall, arguing that they can, or have, addressed all of the county's concerns about the school.
The charter school backers were responding to a report issued Friday, Jan. 30, by the San Mateo County Office of Education analyzing the charter school proposal, which concluded there are grounds that could be used to deny the petition.
The county's board of education meets on Wednesday, Feb. 4, starting at 7 p.m. in the district office board room at 101 Twin Dolphins Drive in Redwood City to decide if it will approve the charter.
Proponents of the Menlo Mandarin Immersion Charter school appealed to the county board after the Menlo Park City School District's board voted unanimously in November to deny their petition.
Among the issues the charter school backers addressed in their response are:
● Financial planning and resource issues that could make it unlikely for the school to be successful. The charter school response said that they have found possible space to rent for as little as $1 per square foot; far less than the county's analysis said is the going rate in the area. They said that while their teacher salary schedule is below the area average, that charter schools often attract teachers early in their careers, when they are paid less.
The charter response also said that start-up costs are not a problem because they are relying on volunteer labor until the school can actually start to use other sources of funding it will receive starting July 1 if the school is approved.
● A requirement that new students in second grade and up pass a Mandarin-proficiency test violates state law. The charter responded that it will give up this requirement.
If the county board denies the charter or takes no action, a final appeal can be made to the state board of education. If either board approves the charter, the school may operate in the district, and the district must provide facilities if the school has more than 80 in-district students.
The petition says the school would open in the fall of 2015 with two classes each of kindergarten and first grade, a total of 100 students. One grade would be added each year.
The charter must be approved by May 7 to preserve a $375,000 grant for startup costs from the federal Public Charter Schools Grant Program.