Officials: Audit on schools welcome
A proposal calling for a statewide audit of California’s charter schools should have little effect on western Nevada County, administrators in two school districts said Tuesday.
In fact, a probe requested by Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes, D-Fresno, would actually be welcomed by the Twin Ridges and Ready Springs school districts, said officials from both districts.
Reyes is requesting the audit to review bookkeeping, teacher credentials, student enrollment, academic performance and curriculum issues for the state’s 350 charter schools, which serve 120,000 students.
“It wouldn’t affect us at all,” said Dave Taylor, superintendent of the Twin Ridges School District, which operates a dozen comprehensive and charter schools throughout Northern California. “It certainly wouldn’t hurt us.”
Taylor noted that the district’s service center, which processes many of the business and curriculum functions that would be reviewed in the proposed statewide audit, already keeps close tabs on the far-flung district.
Twin Ridges is seeking to become the state’s newest charter district next fall, a move that would preserve the district’s curriculum and maintain current funding levels at about $1,000 more per pupil than the state average.
“Our work has been completed as far as the (state) Department of Education is concerned, and approval could come as early as April,” Taylor said. “I don’t know what kinds of changes will occur (because of the audit), but that’s not something we’re really concerned with.”
Merrill Grant, superintendent of the Ready Springs Union School District, which oversees the 100-student Vantage Point Charter School, said he too would welcome the audit.
Vantage Point already has extensive experience working with state regulators: The state Financial Crisis Management Advisory Team recently issued a report citing inaccuracies in the school district’s attendance accounting, jeopardizing the district’s funding source. The report was issued after county Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer warned the district of inaccuracies in its reports.
The school’s director has since been reassigned, with Grant taking over day-to-day operations.
“I would welcome any amount of accountability reporting for charter schools. As you know, we are no stranger to having our books scrutinized, and we’d be prepared for such an action.
“We want to convince the people of Nevada County that charters are being held to the same standards as other schools,” Grant said.
Reyes plans to introduce a bill to limit charter campuses to the county where the charter is based and surrounding counties.
Though they receive public funding, charter schools can set their own curriculum requirements, as long as they meet state standards.
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