whitehillmiddle Ross Valley School District
White Hill Middle School in Fairfax, Calif.

Charter school sues California district to get more classroom space

The Ross Valley Charter School in Fairfax argues that the Ross Valley district is not providing enough classrooms at White Hill Middle School.

Leaders of a charter school in Marin County, Calif., are suing to force the local school district to provide more classroom space in 2018-19.

The Marin Independent Journal reports that Ross Valley Charter School (RVC) is seeking a minimum of 10 classrooms at White Hill Middle School in Fairfax for next school year—two more than the charter school has this school year, and four more classrooms than Ross Valley School District Superintendent Rick Bagley proposed in his preliminary offer on Jan. 31.

“Ross Valley School District’s continuing refusal to meet with Ross Valley Charter to try to resolve the disagreement about the facility offer leaves RVC with no choice but to pursue a resolution through the courts as soon as possible so that both RVC and the district can make time-sensitive plans for next year,” says Sharon Sagar, Ross Valley Charter school board chairwoman.

Bagley said he was not surprised that the suit was filed.

“The charter has been threatening this for some time, so it is not a surprise that they filed,” Bagley said.

[Read the court filing here.]

The superintendent says he is following the schedule and protocols set forth by state Proposition 39, a law invoked by the Ross Valley Charter that requires school districts to provide “reasonably equivalent” facilities to charter schools. The law stipulates that space allotments be based only on the number of charter students that live in the school district.

The charter was granted eight classrooms this year based on projections of 189 in-district students. But that number failed to materialize, instead hovering at slightly more than half that amount for most of the year.

Next year, however, both the charter and the district have agreed to a projected in-district enrollment of 144 students. 

Bagley on Jan. 31 made a preliminary offer of six classrooms, based on 144 in-district students. Charter officials maintain that formula is inaccurate because it doesn’t include space for art, music or daycare.

Sagar says charter enrollment is up and the school has already filled the eight rooms granted this year with traditional classrooms and teachers. At least two more rooms are needed for the specialized classes, she says.

Charter enrollment is now at 159 students, of which 117 are in-district, Sagar said. More students are scheduled to enroll next year, she says.

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