On May 30, 2018, an Integrative Leadership Academy charter school petition was submitted to the San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees in an attempt to start a new charter school in Boulder Creek. Due to numerous deficiencies found by district staff, the petition was denied.
The Integrative Leadership Academy ( I.L.A.) was seeking approval for a five year initial charter school term from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2023. Since the petition was denied, it was sent to the Santa Cruz County Office of Education where the petition will pass or be denied again on October 18, 2018. If, the county denies the petition, then it will be submitted to the state in December, and the charter school would open in August 2019 if it is passed by the state. Parents in the Riverside Grove neighborhood near the former Redwood Elementary often talk nostalgically about the days when the site was full of students. And because much of the neighborhood uses the fields and blacktops, the school has stayed present in their minds. A group of parents started talking about the possibility of a middle school and connected with an organization (Integrative Leadership Academy) that pledged start-up funds and philanthropy to support the school in its early years.
The new public charter school would be located at Camp Harmon in Boulder Creek, complete with classrooms, a grand lodge, a full kitchen, a pool, a working farm and organic garden, an outdoor amphitheatre, as well as miles of hiking trails. The charter school would be funded by public school dollars plus philanthropic funding. The board of directors for the Integrative Leadership Academy will provide 400,000 dollars in start up funds, and has committed an additional 600,000 dollars per year to support the schools operations. In addition, the project will bring an already-committed one million dollars in philanthropy into the valley during 2018, and over 500,000 dollars each year thereafter. This philanthropy will be spent in the Valley on Valley students and in Valley businesses from which the school purchases services — and could fund substantial revenue-generating contracts between ILA and SLVUSD.
The new charter school would be for middle school aged students, with an initial cohort of seventy-four students. It will be a free school for any students grades six through eight who live in Santa Cruz County. This school would be different because it will offer smaller classes then a normal public school would. Students would take a full range of classes, including math, English, history, science, music, art and physical education. There will be special education at the new charter school. An integrative education will not just focus on academic skills, but also on social-emotional intelligence. The charter school will also have a large focus on S.T.E.A.M., science, technology, engineering, art and math. The school would also have athletics and a period for physical education. Some possibilities include: soccer, basketball, softball, swimming, gymnastics and cross country.
The charter school petition was denied due to numerous deficiencies, some of which included: Petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the petition, the Petition presents an unsound educational program, the Petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive description of all required elements set forth in Section 47605(b).
The Santa Cruz County Board of Education office said that they will only approve charter schools with large amounts of parent and community support. If you would like to support the charter petition, then you can send a letter to the Santa Cruz County Board of Education office, or request a meeting with your area trustee.
by Kevin Gianini
photo by Camp Harmon