Town Square

State board approves charter for Everest

Original post made on Mar 13, 2009

A September opening is much more likely now for Everest Public High School, a new charter school that was opposed by the local high school district but approved in a 7-0 vote Wednesday by the California Board of Education.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 12, 2009, 4:56 PM


Posted by Greg Conlon
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 13, 2009 at 4:54 pm

It is difficult for a District to lose the ADA funding of the students who go to Charter schools within the District. I am on an advisory board of a recent new Charter School in the City of Alameda. This is the second such school. The first school after over 10 years experience is now rated in the top 10% in the State. We must allow additional Charter schools if they can excel the same.

The remaining public schools need to exam what makes the Charters successful and copy it in the remaining public schools so that there is no need for further Charter schools weakening the District overall. Obama is pushing for more successful charter schools and has provided the U S Dept of Education $5.0 billion of discretionary funds for the Secretary of the Department to use for this and any other purpose to help public schools.

Lets learn from the successful Charter schools so all the public schools will excel.

Posted by Althea Tomijima
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 13, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Taxpayers should not have to pay for this charter school or for Summit. The parents who want their kids to go to Summit (or this new one) are very often families who do not want to pay for private schools. These are kids who come from Portola Valley and Atherton whose parents are afraid to send them to a public high school because they are afraid that their kids won't get the attention they feel that they need and they are afraid of their children having to mix with kids from East Palo Alto or Redwood City. How can that be acceptable? My children have gone to Menlo-Atherton High School and have received excellent educations. Funding for the public schools should not be reduced because of these charter schools.

Posted by Maria Flaherty
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 13, 2009 at 7:57 pm

You cant say let learn from Charter Schools and make the public schools better. The charter schools do not have to take the students who don't speak english, when the charter school student is not successful they go back to there local public school. It is apples and oranges you can not tout that the Charter HS is in the 10% because they dont' take everyone who shows up. If a parent can't contribute hours there child can not attend. If the student is not fluent in english they can not attend. This is so sad for SUHSD to have to fund another charter school.

Posted by Sequoia High School District Parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2009 at 12:30 pm

This issue between Summit and The District is about money, political power and maintaining the status quo. Does the money automatically belong to the High School District? This money is allotted by the State to educate students. The funding for the school follows the student, not the district. Summit and Everest are alternatives – very positive alternatives for our students. I see Summit/Everest as an educational choice.

I have four children, two who attended Sequoia (one graduated, one didn’t), one at Summit and one at Clifford School. Summit is a lean, efficient model for students who aspire to matriculate to four-year college – it is a college prep charter. It no better or worse than other SUHSD programs, does not discriminate nor cherry-pick. It is an alternative, one that seems to be a very popular choice among families within the District. My son has had a very positive experience at Summit and has greatly benefited from the focused curriculum. He is highly engaged in school and is starting to think about going to college. What more could a parent ask for?

My Sequoia HS students did not enjoy this type of high school experience. They like Sequoia however, but drifted more through their four years – as I did when I attended San Carlos HS & Sequoia. The Summit experience is special. I cannot afford to send my children to private school even if I wanted to. I make too little money and live in San Mateo County. I pay taxes, work hard and volunteer in the schools. Here is an alternative that is available to us, why can’t we embrace it without the District interference (Thank you Ted Lempert, Rod Hsiao and Olivia Martinez for supporting choice within our District).

The bias and partisan local boards do not like the Summit program. They have made Summit out as an interloper. Summit must be a huge threat to their power base. Summit has become a new comparison point in a closed, controlled environment. Obviously, the State of California has a much different opinion on how public education should be administered. They unanimously approved a model that is working very well on all objective levels. As a Summit parent, I can attest the program is working very well for my student. The District has many fine programs. I wish they would count Summit and Everest as part of their exemplary high school offering. Again, I contend, it is not the District’s money, it is the funding that follows the student. Let Summit/Everest stand or fall on it’s own merit as an alternative which serves a segment of our community. Is educational choice too much to ask for as well as expect as a taxpayer?

Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Charter schools ARE public schools and can't discriminate. My understanding is that Summit takes students based on a random lottery -- hardly cherry picking.

I find it interesting that Sequoia can't even list Summit as a school in their district, which of course it is. See:

Also, I believe Summit spends $2K LESS per student than other SUHSD schools, so each student the district "loses" is actually leaves more money left for the other schools in the district!!

Posted by MP momma
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 15, 2009 at 3:13 pm

I have four kids who have only attended traditional schools, but I am grateful to have Summit (and soon, Everest) as an option. I have talked to Summit students and parents, and for most of them, the experience has been phenomenal. They get a personalized, supportive education. EVERY child deserves this! Many kids do get a fine education at M-A, but others fall between the cracks. About half of each freshman class drops out before graduation.

I agree with many points that SHSD Parent makes, but I would say the struggle is more than just about the power base. The district is also very concerned about meeting standards established by NCLB (remember that M-A was in serious trouble for years in that regard) and sees the charter schools as siphoning off the students who will help keep the numbers within acceptable range. Even though students are randomly selected, the applicant pool itself is probably biased toward students from families who care about education. So the district's concerns are valid, but their response is inappropriate.

I suppose the district's greatest fear is that all the kids above the mean will jump ship and the schools will be left with just the under-performing students. But that might actually force the district to learn how to reach out to these kids, rather than hope they drop out quickly so that they can stop lowering the schools' test score averages.

Posted by Idea
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2009 at 3:47 pm

If SUHSD is concerned about losing the cream of the crop from M-A (as noted by MP Momma) to keep overall scores high, what about offering two tracks at M-A -- one for the college prep students to keep them at the school and happy, and one for those needing help.

I see that Summit is oversubscribed by over 3:1 (325 applicants for 100 slots), meaning the SUHSD isn't meeting the needs of the college prep kids.

Posted by Summit parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2009 at 6:34 pm

In some of the thoughtful posts above, there's an assumption that Summit and future Everest students are high-performing because they're college prep. Actually, this isn't true. There is a wide range of students at Summit, including some who excel, some who struggle to make C's, and everything in between. These students all have in common a preference to go to a small school where everyone is planning to go to college, but this doesn't mean they're all getting good grades and high scores on standardized tests. While all Summit students are "college prep" by definition, many of them would not be taking AP courses if they were going to one of the traditional schools, because they don't have enough prerequisites or high enough grades to get in.

I can understand the concerns of people who worry about charter schools siphoning off the "top" students, but they don't have to worry. Many top students would not enjoy being in Summit's mixed classrooms and would rather have the tracking that's available at the large comprehensive high schools, where they would be placed into the most advanced classes. Someone who chooses Summit or Everest has to want to be in academically diverse classes, among other things.

Posted by Future Everest Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 15, 2009 at 11:31 pm

As the parent of a child who thrives in a small environment with individualized attention, who is past #150 on the Summit waiting list with almost no chance to get in, but has a spot at Everest, I applaud the California Board of Education's vote and the Summit Foundation's fight to form Everest. To the Sequoia Union High School District - perhaps energy should be shifted from mudslinging and playing unethical and "below board" games with substandard facilities for Everest to focusing on how to improve the SUHSD program so more families select what you have to offer? After shadowing at 2 SUHSD schools, my child did not feel physically safe at one, and felt that the other one treated students "like just a number".

Posted by A concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 16, 2009 at 9:23 am

The demographics at Summit include 53.9% white, 31.7% Hispanic and 2.7 African-American. SUHSD's demographics include 40.1% white, 42% Hispanic and 5.1% African-American. Why are taxpayers paying for segregation? If there were a true lottery then the demographics would match that of the school district. Kids that drop out from SUHSD very often because of a poor foundation in elementary school. It is very difficult to help them in such a short period of time although every attempt is made to do so. Those kids are not offered spaces at Summit. When it was suggested that Summit take more kids with disabilities as a precondition of sponsorship, Summit refused, I seem to remember.

Posted by To A Concerned Parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2009 at 9:53 am

Regarding Summit's demographics: The lottery is from those applying to Summit, and thus reflects the demographics of those applicants, and not SUHSD as a whole.

I believe Summit must give anyone applying an equal chance of admission without bias due to disability or academic ability, including those with poor elementary school foundations. Since Summit focuses on college prep, the applicants will naturally tend to have that as a priority. Perhaps someone from the school could comment on this.

Posted by Summit parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2009 at 1:32 pm

To the concerned parent above - Summit is not allowed to set quotas; it has to hold a lottery. When the district asked Summit to prioritize some groups above others for admission, they were asking Summit to break the law. Still, Summit does have quite a few kids with learning differences - enough to justify having two learning specialists on staff to work with them.

It is hyperbole to suggest that Summit would be "segregated" if it were 31.7% Hispanic (which it isn't - the real figure is quite a bit higher) instead of mirroring the 42% figure of the district as a whole. You know that none of the traditional schools exactly mirrors the district averages either, right? Does that make all of them segregated too?

Anyone who is concerned about segregation at Summit should come by for a visit sometime - I think you'd find that your worries would go away.

Posted by Another "To a concerned parent"
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 16, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Also- did it occur to you that many kids in the RWC district attend private schools? The district numbers do not take into account the vast number of children enrolled in a variety of private schools. I would guess that many parents have found Summit to be an alternative to private. In addition, SUHSD caters to not only Redwood City, but Menlo Park, Atherton and San Carlos. To reiterate the previous poster, the lottery is taken from applicants. A College Prep school will draw from the non-public school population.

Posted by A concerned parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Mar 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm

The charter schools do not pick the cream of the crop. If you don't believe me, just drive by Summit Prep on any afternoon (as I do) and you'll see that these kids look and act just like the kids at any other area high school.

The main difference, in my opinion, is parent involvement.

My complaint is that the school districts SAY they want parent involvement and that they encourage charter schools - this is hollow talk because they certainly don't act like it. The district was completely against Summit and fought it at every turn (even giving them the worst possible locations and changing those locations as often as possible). Now they are doing the same to Everest and it is truly shameful.

The charter schools work because these are students and parents that are motivated and understand the value of education. The charter schools are more successful and do it with less money than the other schools. The school district should thank and embrace these parents and students instead of doing everything they can to discourage their efforts.

Instead of worrying about their eroding influence and their lack of control on these charters schools, they should encourage new charter schools addressing more and more segments of the student population. I'd love to see the Sequoia district with dozens of charter schools - each performing at superlative levels.

But the first thing the Sequoia district should do is give the new Everest school a decent campus. Didn't the district learn anything from their Summit experience? The district needs to stop being so stubborn and foolish... and they can save themselves a lot of money in legal expenses. Like Summit, Everest will a successful school housed in a great campus one day soon.

Wake up, district officials!

Posted by a disgruntled taxpayer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 16, 2009 at 7:12 pm

All of the comments in response to "Concerned Parent" seem to prove that Summit is a quasi private school that is supported by taxpayer money. In addition to taking the money away from the SUHSD that would be received from each those students, SUHSD is required to provide facilities. Taxpayers should not have to pay for this. If the parents of these children want a private school, they should have to pay for it-not the taxpayers.

Also, if Summit and Everest are all about diversity, then why not accept the facilities that were offered in East Palo Alto? Now we find out the truth!

Posted by M-A Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 16, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I don't believe the solution to HS education is a lot of charter schools.

How many students attending Summit Prep are on the free and reduced lunch program?

Why are they afraid to open a school in EPA, the only town served by SUHSD without a school.

A Redwood city location makes it difficult if not impossible for the parents of EPA to participate who do not own a car and rely on public transportation.

SUHSD loves parent involvement - just look at all the hours that are logged by the office.

All schools are not perfect for all students I agree with that but we have enough charter schools now and it is not like they are just asking for money each of those students bring to the district but they are asking for facilities which is taking away money from the district. Everist and Summit say the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

If you want small personalized schools then attend and pay and attend a private school. Don't ask the SUHSD taxpayers who are already losing enough money to cut 20 teachers salaries to fund your private school.

There is no mandated tracking system at the SUHSD schools. If you are great in math then you can take AP math and grade level in english then can take grade level classes. The schedules are very much customized toward the needs of the students.

If you want to go college then your parent and student choose those class. There is not these kids are going to college and these are not.

There is no mandated tracking system at the SUHSD schools. If you are great in math then you can take AP math and grade level in english then can take grade level classes. The schedules are very much customized toward the needs of the students.

If you want to go college then your parent and student choose those class. There is not these kids are going to college and these are not.

Why not marry Everist with East Palo Alto Prep?
To many High schools in RWC: WHS, Sequoia, Redwood, Summit Prep,
Carlmont is in San Carlos
Menlo Park and Atherton have Menlo-Atherton

It makes no sense to open up another HS in RWC

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Mar 16, 2009 at 8:41 pm

1. Incredible that someone could actually assert that Summit Prep's 53.9% white, 31.7% Hispanic and 2.7 African-American is "segregated." You should have grown up in the South in the '50's and '60's, like I did.

2. Charter schools do not siphon money from the district. The money belongs to the student, it doesn't stay at the school if the kid moves on! If a school lost half of its students, should they still get the same funding???

3. The Sequoia district hasn't given a "facility" in East Palo Alto to Everest. They've given them an empty lot and they're proposing putting four or five trailers on it. That hardly meets the requirements of the charter school law.

4. I just wish the school district would stop saying how much they support charter schools. They've voted against every one of them, every time and they've denied them the support they are due by law.

5. East Palo Alto isn't the only city in the Sequoia District that doesn't have a high school. Last time I checked, Woodside didn't either (sorry, Woodside High is not in Woodside). And currently more Redwood City high school students take buses to high school than EPA kids.

So just keep railing against Everest, if it makes you feel better. I'm sure the courts will eventually give Everest the "equivalent" facility they are due BY LAW. In the meantime, the obstinance of our district officials will cost our district tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of dollars in legal fees.

Of course, the district could do a better job educating our children, too...and embracing parent involvement.

Talk is cheap.

Posted by a concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 16, 2009 at 8:59 pm

This isn't the 50s and 60s anymore. That was prior to desegregatation. And the new statistic at:

Web Link

shows even a higher number of whites at (55.3%) at Summit.

If that isn't segregation, what is? If they want more diversity, then Summit and Everest should take more kids from East Palo Alto period. The court and school board may be following the charter school law but when it is applied to our area, it ends up causing segregation which is what the SUHSD was trying to tell the people in Sacramento. Desegregation is the law also and using the charter school law as a way to segregate kids should not be supported by taxpayer money!

Using "parent involvement" as a way to separate applicants is also discriminatory. Parents that don't speak English, have many children, are single parents, multiple jobs, etc., may not be able to do so.

Posted by tongan parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 17, 2009 at 6:26 am

How many students attending Summit Prep are on the free and reduced lunch program? Would they provide that if my child gets in?

It would be nice to have a high school in Belle Haven.

Posted by Involved parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 17, 2009 at 8:50 am

I have found that most people who oppose Summit and Everest do so only based on what they hear and/or read from the School District. There is so much misinformation floating out there and the opponents of these charter schools won't change their minds...unless they get to know the schools personally. Only by phyically going there and observing with an open mind will they believe that Summit has a diverse population of students. And, all this talk of segregation is really quite comical when you consider that at the comprehensive high schools, the AS and AP class populations are hardly representative of the school's demographics. That can not be said about Summit.

Please don't argue points that you can not substantiate (i.e. the lottery, which is just that..there is no cherry picking; special ed, of which there are quite a few, my child being one of them).

And, as an aside, I have students at both Summit and M-A. I see both sides and can appreciate each school for what they offer to their students.

Posted by to tongan parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm

To tongan parent - The figures I've seen are that 28% of Summit students are on the free and reduced lunch program. The school also runs its own "Husky scholarship" program, which helps students pay for school supplies, student activities, AP tests, etc.

Posted by David Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Mar 17, 2009 at 3:12 pm

David Boyce is a registered user.

A Sept. 24, 2008, Almanac story I wrote notes that the petitioners from Everest say that at Summit Prep, for the 2008-09 school year, 45 percent of the students are from families receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Posted by informed
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2009 at 7:12 am

two silly red herrings: "quasi-private" and "segregated"

public means open to everyone
public means supports all students
How hard is "open lottery" to understand? Summit seeks out and educates a complete range of students: ethnic, income, education and ability. Anyone who thinks otherwise should stop by the school.

the 2007 graduating class of M-A is over 56% white (218/387 students). should M-A be closed as "segregated"? M-As climbs to 74% white (175/235) for graduates who are ready for college. For Carlmont the segregated figures are 53% white (222/418 graduates) and 56% (142/250 grads ready for college). How rapidly should Carlmont be closed?

The source material from the state to look for yourself is Web Link

Awake readers will notice the precipitous decline in numbers from 9th grade enrollment to graduates to college ready grads.

Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 18, 2009 at 8:13 am

No school officials have to tell me that things aren't right when Portola Valley parents start a school because they want a smaller school for their children and insist that their children get legacy status, circumventing the so-called lottery. There are many other charter schools already in the area. The SUHSD supports them. Why do we need another?

Posted by mp momma
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 18, 2009 at 9:15 am

Thanks for the link, informed. I didn't realize all that info was so accessible. Looks as though M-A tends to lose about 1/3 of the black and latino students between 9th and 12th grades. Shameful.

taxpayer, way back when Summit was first envisioned, the backers were parents from Woodside and PV. As I recall, their motivation was to establish a school closer to home. But that's ancient history and unrelated to the school that Summit is today. Didn't they also eliminate the two-tiered admission? (I understand that the people who built the school would want priority, but also believe they shouldn't get it.)

Posted by In favor of Charter schools
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm

By the way, parents in Portola Valley/Woodside and Atherton also paid taxes! we have the right to get access to public or charter schools too.

Bottom line: Sequoia schools do not want to let their money go elsewhere even thou Summit can do more for less we their students (it cost Summit $2000 less per student).

Funny thing they don't want to have another charter school and yet they are looking for one more "administrative position" person at $100K per year! So, I guess money is not an issue at all...or is it?

Our kid shadowed at M-A, Woodside HS, and Summit..He liked Summit better. So what are we to do as a parents? We allowed our son to make his decision. He decided for Summit and did not get in. But guess what, he had a choice.

Diversity: drive by or better yet go visit Summit see for yourself.

We are glad Everest was approved, it proved the point educators outside the Sequoia school district did not see the same "problems" our Pat Gemma or board members did in San Mateo.

Posted by Summit Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 18, 2009 at 5:45 pm

I have to think that all those who think that Summit is an elitist school has not visited the campus! Summit is a beautiful mix of students, no one is a minority or majority. The argument that Summit serves only a select few is just plain wrong. Step foot on the campus and then try to argue that point.

My daughter has dyslexia and really struggles at times. Her teachers at Summit are right on it, helping her every step of the way. The special ed teachers are fabulous at MA as well, but for my daughter, the small enviornment and one on one attention is another way getting her through.

I am proud to live in a community that supports choices in education!

Posted by Another Summit Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm

OMG People! Look up the definition of LOTTERY! The applicants at Summit (and Everest) fill out an application.....the application is put into the stack with THE OTHER applications....all the paper is the SAME COLOR.....on a specified DATE the applications are DRAWN in a conventional LOTTERY system......the names are written down as they are drawn.....the students are notified. That's it!

Posted by asdfs
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 18, 2009 at 8:54 pm

having a new school is the most pointless use of funds when no funds are available

Posted by a parent
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 18, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Of course, it is a lottery but what happens before the lottery? Children from the founders are given preference, parents who cannot fulfill the parent involvement requirement are not included, families in some communities are not aware of it, etc.

It all amounts to the same thing-money is being taken away from our neediest kids.

Posted by Julie
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2009 at 9:33 am

This is to the person who thinks that Summit is only for rich kids:

My daughter goes to Summit and we qualify for free lunch. Yes, there are lots of kids from Atherton and Portola Valley, but there are even more from East Palo Alto, east RC, and east MP. The school is very diverse both racially and socio-economically. The district would have you believe otherwise because I suspect that they are embarrassed by the great results Summit is getting from kids who tend to do poorly at the bigger traditional high schools.

Drive by the school around 3:15 and your eyes will see the mix of kids who attend. Better yet, schedule a tour of the school and see it in action!

Posted by Neighborhood parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2009 at 10:55 am

No funds? The school district doesn't seem to have a problem finding funds for those enormous and expensive new buildings at Menlo-Atherton and Woodside High Schools!

But fortunately, no NEW funds are even required. The charter school students who leave the former school simply take their funding with them to their new school.

Yes, it's true that their former school won't get the funds for those students who leave - but those former schools no longer have to teach these kids, do they? Do you think that a school that "loses" 200 students to another school should receive the same funding? They have less kids to teach - that means a few less teachers and administrators.

This isn't a particularly hard concept to grasp.

Posted by An Almanac Reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2009 at 11:00 am

Gee, these charter schools are so unpopular!

There were a total of about 800 applicants for Everest and Summit. I'm not sure how many of those overlap, but that's a pretty impressive number when you consider that only 2,000 students will enter the SUHSD high schools this year.

See this story from today's website:

Enrollment began over the weekend for freshman classes at Everest and Summit Prep charter high schools, each enrolling 108 students.

A lottery was held Saturday, March 14, as required when there are more applicants than space.

Everest had 298 applicants, a ratio of about 2.8 applicants for every seat, according to Diane Tavenner, Everest spokeswoman and founder of Summit Prep.

Summit Prep had 497 applications, including 27 that were too late, and 34 from outside the Sequoia district, school Director Todd Dickson said. That ratio is 4.6 applicants for every seat.

"There's definitely a strong demand and not enough space for the kids," Mr. Dickson added. "There were a lot of tears and a lot of sad kids who didn't get in (at the lottery), and there were a lot of happy kids who did. It's always bittersweet."

The Sequoia Union High School District estimates that 2,023 freshmen will enroll in its four comprehensive schools in September, district spokeswoman Bettylu Smith said.

Posted by Tired of Pat Gemma
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Mar 19, 2009 at 11:36 am

Pat Gemma from the Sequoia school district was against Summit Charter in 2001. Numbers don't lie, look at Summit Prep now one of the best school in the district. So, Pat what will it take for you to learn to spend your negative energy into something more productive for our DISTRICT?

Stop using lies and misinformation to get parents and your own teachers to go against Summit or Everest Prep. Use your time wisely and learn from Summit. Diversity: Take time to go visit Summit; Funds: You obviously have access to it, you spent enough money in the athletic facilities at Woodside and M-A and on top of that you are recruting am "Attendance and Welfare dean at a cost of $100K per year. Maybe if you budget a bit better within your district you will not be crying foul all the time about the money that will go to the charters school.

Enough is enough Pat Gemma. Learn from the Charter schools instead of expending time and energy being agaisnt them.

When is your contract up for renewal Pat? Maybe new leadership is due in our district.

Article about the new opening in the Sequoia School District:

"Attendance and Welfare Officer, who will be addressing the more
serious attendance and residency issues on campus. He noted that this position ould be connected with law enforcement but would be a district employee.

The Probation Department suggested creating the position and seeking retirees rom the Probation Department to fill the positions. "

Posted by Informed
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2009 at 5:25 pm

to be fair to Dr. Gemma, the superintendent opposed to Summit in 2001 was Jo Ann Smith.

Web Link

Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 21, 2009 at 8:27 am

The parcel tax that was passed by SUHSD voters plus funds from the city of Menlo Park and private donors are paying for the building on the Menlo-Atherton campus. A private donor paid for the theater at Woodside. Get your facts straight. Are you begrudging a lot of kids a good theater or good athletic facilities? The parcel tax money can't be used for teacher salaries or to provide facilities to Summit and Everest. Funds are taken away from the SUHSD for that. And the way that basic aid districts work does mean that the SUHSD does get less funds when they lose a kid.

I would like to know how much of those good results at Summit is more due to the education that kids that go to Summit get before coming there than because of going there. The kids that had solid foundations and go to SUHSD schools do well too. Give credit where credit is due.

Posted by mp momma
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:12 am

No, basic aid districts do not lose money, other than a very small token amount, when they lose a child. Get your facts straight! But in any case, the Summit and Everest students are still in the district, still attending a public school. If 25 students in the M-A district go to Summit instead, then M-A needs one fewer teacher and Summit needs one more.

Complaining about the cost is specious. However, I agree that the kids who attend Summit tend to have greater family support than average. But that is a problem that the school districts are not addressing, not a flaw with Summit or Everest.

Posted by Hopeful Everest Student
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:56 am

this is why I want to go to Everest. Check out this video made by students to support the Everest petition.

Web Link

I want to go to a small school and get extra help so I can someday attend college.

A poor kid from RWC on the waiting list

Posted by David Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Mar 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

David Boyce is a registered user.

The performing arts center at Woodside High was funded with proceeds from Measure G, an $88 million measure approved by voters in 2001.

According to a Sequoia Union High School District report from the Bond Oversight Committee published in June 2005, Woodside High received $4.4 million in "non (Measure) G funds" for Measure G projects, and all of it came from the state.

The "Private donations" field in the report is blank for both Woodside and M-A. The other two comprehensive high schools received about $700,000 in donations.

The report, prepared by committee chair Dennis McBride, shows that Woodside received a total of $19.8 million from Measure G, and $15.6 million of that went to the performing arts center.

The report says that $1.4 million in state matching funds went to Woodside's theater. Almanac inquiries on the total cost for the theater have always been answered with figures between $16 million and $18 million.

As for parcel taxes, residents of the Sequoia district don't pay any to the high school district. The district does receive a share of residents' property tax revenues.

Because that share of property tax revenues is sufficient to meet the state's minimum per-student allocation, unlike the vast majority of school districts in the state, the Sequoia district can keep all of its property tax revenues above that minimum allocation.

This results in the Sequoia district having more money available per student than the average high school district in the state.

Posted by Grateful reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Thanks to David Boyce for taking the time to do this research and to provide this information.

It's funny how people will make statements and represent them as facts when they aren't even close.

People often complain about bias at the Almanac but I remain impressed with Mr. Boyce!

Posted by informed
a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2009 at 11:25 pm

both "concerned" and "mp momma" are correct: as basic aid district, Sequoia loses very little funding when a student leaves by dropping out or moving. Sequoia district pays much more when a student leaves to attend a charter public school; however, this payment is approximately $2000 less than the average funding per student which Sequoia receives from property taxes.

Posted by a parent from Woodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Yes, it was Measure G, not general property taxes, that mainly built the theater and paid for the facilities that were built on Woodside campus. That means that money can't be used for now providing facilities for Summit and Everest as both want. It is gone. Thanks David Boyce for pointing that out.

Any new money would have to come out of funds for the school district. And that money would have to taken away from teacher salaries when property tax revenues are down.

And when Boyce says, "This results in the Sequoia district having more money available per student than the average high school district in the state," that is true but that also means that when they lose a kid, it means that they will lose more. And when they go to a charter school, even if it is in the district, that money is gone and will not help support the other kids in the district.

The district does encourage parent involvement. They can't help it when some parents cannot. They don't throw them out or not accept them. Those kids need the most help!

In an ideal world, all kids would get individualized attention but that our system doesn't have the money for that and taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for individualized attention for kids that come from relatively affluent families that have had good foundations in their elementary school years.

Posted by Data
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2009 at 3:46 pm

There seems to be a lot of confusion over how much money SUHSD "loses" when a new charter school attracts a existing student away from a traditional school.

If would be helpful if someone, perhaps David Boyce, could explain how much money SUSHD receives before/after the introduction of a charter school, and how much the charter school receives.

For instance, if SUHSD receives $7500 for 8000 students, and 800 "leave" to go to Summit and Everest, which cost less (at say $5500), does that not leave more money per student for those remaining in traditional schools?

Students $Total $/Student

SUHSD w/o charters ??? ??? ???
SUHSD w/charters ??? ??? ???
Charters ??? ??? ???

Some objective numbers would be helpful.

Posted by mp momma
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 22, 2009 at 5:11 pm

SUHSD gets exactly the same amount of money whether or not the students are attending traditional high schools or charter schools. All are public schools! That is why I said it was specious to complain about the cost.

Posted by supporter of Pat Gemma
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Knowing the basic aid amount is important but no matter how much that is, that won't include the amount that the district will have to use from its funds for providing facilities to Summit and Everest. That will come out of other funds that could be used for teacher salaries, etc.

Posted by Data
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2009 at 9:00 pm

To MP Momma -- yes, I agree, the district gets the same amount of total money. But if a charter school costs less to run per student, then that leaves more money per student left for the traditional schools, making the "its taking money away" argument even more ridiculous.

Posted by An innocent bystander
a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Perhaps someone answer a question for me: Where does the money go that the SUHSD collects for every home remodel in the district? Three years ago, when I remodeled my house, I discovered that, in addition to building permits, I needed to pay a separate tax to SUHSD for every sq.ft added to the house before I could get the permits released to me. There is a small office on the Sequoia campus which is staffed by rude, disgruntled employees (paid for by our tax dollars, no doubt) where they review the plans and collect the checks. After suffering through the lengthy process and writing a couple of checks, I asked the woman at the desk what they did with the money, to which she replied "Nobody knows that!". 'Nuff said.

Our secondary education is in shambles. Everyone is blaming someone else for this situation. I say good for the charter educators, parents and students who are willing to take the risk and effort of improving a situation that many people are unhappy about. They may have the vision of the future that we sorely need right now.

Posted by against charter schools
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 23, 2009 at 8:57 am

Taxes paid directly to the SUHSD? The county tax collector does that and there can't be any new levies unless the tax collector determines that a remodel has increased the value of the house.

SUHSD does a good job of educating its students but it can't perform miracles for all its students. If many of these small schools are created, then our taxes will have to go even higher to support them!

And providing separate gyms, theaters, classrooms, etc., for all these facilities for a small number of kids will take away money from a larger number of kids. If they want to start a charter school, then they shouldn't expect to have facilities provided for them. The other charter schools haven't. Why should they be provided for Summit and Everest?

Posted by David Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Mar 23, 2009 at 9:43 am

David Boyce is a registered user.

The Sequoia district is required by the state to pay charter schools about $7,000 for each student who attends the school. This amount, known as the "average daily attendance," or ADA, varies year by year and the annual setting is anticipated by 90% of California school districts. Why? Because their local property tax revenues are not sufficient to reach ADA for every student. So they hand over all of their property tax revenues to the state and get back the full ADA (supplemented by state money). Their total ADA rises and falls with student population.

Recently, the ADA has been between $6,800 and $7,000. For the 400 students at Summit Prep, for example, that would work out to an annual payment of $2.7 million to $2.8 million. The Sequoia district's annual budget, most recently, was $92 million. For the district's 8,200 students, that works out to about $11,220 per student.

Since the Sequoia district has enough local property tax revenue that it doesn't need supplements from the state, it is responsible for paying charter school ADA from its operating funds. That includes ADA for out-of-district students. The district is supposed to be reimbursed by the student's home district, but I have heard Sequoia district officials say that getting that reimbursement money is not easy or simple.

In the context of the documented success at charter schools, charter school advocates point to this difference in ADA -- $7,000 per charter student versus $11,220 per district student -- as evidence of fiscal prudence. Sequoia district officials have argued that this difference is misleading in that while the district has to pay $7,000 per student, it doesn't save $7,000 per student in overhead expenses when that student leaves.

Summit Prep founder Diane Tavenner told The Almanac recently that Summit Prep raised $700,000 in donations for the 2008-09 school year. For 400 students, that raises the spending to about $8,750 per student. The district and the comprehensive high schools also receive donations.

Don Gielow, the former interim assistant superintendent for the Sequoia district, has said that for every 100 students attending a charter, the district pays about $800,000, but saves about $400,000 in overhead costs, such as for teachers.

As for costs of charter school facilities to the Sequoia district's bottom line, all of that money comes from bond measures.

The Sequoia district has raised $323 million from a series of successful ballot measures it sponsored, starting in 2001. Charter schools are eligible for some of that money because the district put a measure before voters that could win approval with less than the normal two-thirds majority required for tax increases. State law requires that charter schools also benefit from that tradeoff.

Posted by Grateful reader
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Thank you for this objective overview.

You are an asset to our community, Mr. Boyce.

Posted by Data
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2009 at 9:12 am

Thanks David.

So I get these numbers:

SUSHD w/o charters:

$92M budget / 8200 students = $11,200 per student.

SUSHD w/ 800 students at charters:

800 students x $7K = $5.6M going to the charters.

$86.4M remaining / 7400 students = $11,676 remaining per "traditional" student.

This means an extra $476 per remaining student. But apparently this is not enough to fully cover the remaining share of fixed costs/overhead??

Posted by Data
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2009 at 9:17 am

Minor calculator error: should be $11,220 before vs $11,676 after, or a difference of $456.

Posted by no facilities for charter schools
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 24, 2009 at 9:51 am

Thanks Daivd Boyce for your research.

Mr. Boyce says, "As for costs of charter school facilities to the Sequoia district's bottom line, all of that money comes from bond measures.

The Sequoia district has raised $323 million from a series of successful ballot measures it sponsored, starting in 2001. Charter schools are eligible for some of that money because the district put a measure before voters that could win approval with less than the normal two-thirds majority required for tax increases. State law requires that charter schools also benefit from that tradeoff."

This means that if the SUHSD must provide facilities for the 800 kids at charter schools, then they will not be able to use it to build/finish the facilities for 7400 kids.

Posted by no facilities?
a resident of another community
on Mar 24, 2009 at 10:00 am

Wasn't the $323M raised to provide facilities/upgrades to support 8200 students, not 7400?

Posted by Libertarian
a resident of Woodside High School
on Apr 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm

The only positive thing I can say about this board is that many people appear to care enough about the issue to write. Involvement is good. It is even better when based on objective facts rather than rumor or someone's opinion. Mr. Boyce deserves credit for serving as a trusted source here.

My own opinions are informed by information on the web, some supplied here, occasional attendence at or review of minutes of meetings of the Board of Trustees of the School District, as well as visiting Summit Prep and discussions with the leadership of Summit. I have a child graduating from Woodside this year and as a parent of a soon-to-be ninth grader, I investigated charter schools as an option, as well as Woodside and Sequoia.

With regard to the chartering process and the provision of facilities, it is quite clear that the district does not want any more charter schools. It has apparently done battle with the Summit group and wanted to quash Everest before it got off the ground. It is pretty clear based on student/parental interest in applications to Summit and Everest (applications were due before the school even had a charter approved so this was based on faith that it would be approved) that despite the District's contention to the contrary, there is certainly demand for a small school that will better prepare high school students for college. The fact that the district and county boards' decisions were reveresed at the state level indicates the importance of having an appeal process and likely means that an outside group believes that the district is not being fair.
Certainly, the presentation I witnessed by the representative of the Board of Trustees was skewed, based on rumor, not based on available facts, and from what I could tell, started at a conclusion and tried to fit facts in to arrive there or shade facts if available facts didn't fit. The "facility" in EPA was an artists rendering of what it might look like. The district stated that they planned to do this independent of Everest's charter, and yet have no other use for the "facility". An earlier writer asked what percentage of Everest students would qualify for the free lunch program" and the number was something like 30%. The so-called "facility" also lacked facilities for hot lunch. The district solution is to require high school students in the middle of the day to drive (or be driven) to Menlo-Atherton for a lunch facility.
If this were the 50's and this "facility" were proposed as "Separate but equal" for African-American children in the south, it would be laughable, yet this is the district's position today.

As far as a location in RWC, readers should be aware that charter schools are required to preferentailly accept students from all over the school district. As far south as EPA and as far north as Belmont. The district's site of choice is at the very far end of the distric, thereby maximizing the potential travel. Children from EPA would need a parent to drive them anyway because of the lunch problem and this would probably increase the barrier for these families to attend.

The sad thing from looking at the Board's position as well as many comments on this board (many based on misinformation apparently), is that rather than bashing a group for trying (and apparently succeeding) to get our kids ready for their challenges ahead, people are worrying about keeping their share of the pie which is rapidly shrinking. Our kids need to be able to compete in Math and Science with kids from China and India who are not goping to be bothered by the social issues which plague our schools and really should be dealt with separately. That may sound harsh, but it's real.