Twin Ridges set to become charter district |

Twin Ridges set to become charter district

The Union StaffStudents at Twin Ridges Elementary School District's Oak Tree Community Charter School study outdoors in this October file photo. The school district plans to become an all-charter district.
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Twin Ridges Elementary School District trustees have ratified a plan to create the state’s newest charter district.

The board voted unanimously this week to send a plan to the state Department of Education to create the fifth district in California.

Doing so would keep Twin Ridges’ per-pupil funding at roughly $1,200 more than the state average, provided the state endorses the plan for the 14-school, 1,725-student district based on San Juan Ridge.

Of the district’s 14 schools, 12 are charters in Nevada, Placer, Napa, Mendocino and other counties. Nevada County’s Washington and Grizzly Hill schools operate as traditional K-8 institutions.

The unanimous vote by the trustees means the Department of Education will most likely review the district’s petition by May, beating a state-mandated July deadline for submitting charter district proposals.

The district stands to lose $1.5 million in funding if the proposal is not accepted by the state, but trustees and Twin Ridges officials believe they have a good shot at keeping district programs that emphasize school choice and specialized curriculum intact.

“We felt this was the proper course of action,” said trustee Corina Loving Young. “If we lose our funding, I would be concerned that we wouldn’t be able to continue the kinds of programs this district is known for. We’re all part of a big cooperative, and we want our students taken care of.”

Nearly all of the district’s teachers supported Twin Ridges’ action, Young said, a clear sign they, too, want to continue operating under the district’s system.

Recent bills introduced in the California Legislature suggest the state is taking a harsher look at charter schools, which have been allowed in the state for a decade.

“Every one of these schools are different,” trustee Sande Scott said. “We feel we are in a better position to navigate charter laws by adopting this.”

County Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer gave the district his blessing, though he’s not required to sign off on the proposal.

“This will be a very important step for them to continue their educational process,” he said.

Twin Ridges will lose one of its charter schools next year when students at Oak Tree Community Charter School will be combined with those at Grizzly Hill. Enrollment at Oak Tree has been declining.

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