Local News

Wednesday, Feb 13 2013 02:49 PM

School district presents facilities option to charter school

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A map of the proposed facilities the Tehachapi Unified School District is offering to the Abernathy Charter School on the campus of Jacobsen Middle School.

In California, Proposition 39, passed by voters in 2000, requires school districts to provide charter schools that serve a minimum of 80 in-district students with facilities.

The measure also requires that these facilities remain the property of the district and that they be contiguous, furnished, and equipped.

Today, the Tehachapi Unified School District is fulfilling that requirement by presenting two facilities options to the Abernathy Collegiate Charter School for the upcoming school year.

The district’s offer comes just hours before the Feb. 13 deadline is set to expire.

The reason why the district took so long according to Chief Administrator of Business Services Nick Heinlein, is that many of the options that the district had been considering were deferred due to programmatic reasons, delayed due to finances, or hindered due to a short planning process window.

“With school construction there are a lot of hurdles,” Heinlein said. “One delay can really set you back and then it’s like a domino effect.”

Nevertheless, Abernathy will receive its options, including the first, which provides cash in-lieu of facilities.

This means that the district would pay Abernathy the difference between the 3 percent and 1 percent supervisory oversight fee for the costs of performing the duties required by the ed code. The amount would depend on Abernathy’s average daily attendance and is estimated to cost the district close to $12,000.

However, Abernathy must agree that this money fulfills the district’s facilities obligation under Education Code section 47614 and then must find facilities elsewhere.

The second option being presented, involves allocating the 500 wing rooms and portion of the agriculture classrooms at Jacobsen Middle School.

The district would need to install fencing and refurbish access ramps to some of the classrooms at cost of around $20,000, which would be partially offset by Abernathy’s pro-rata share of facility costs.

This option would provide the charter school with four, possibly five classrooms, separate restrooms, and secured entrances and private grass areas.

Originally, Abernathy had requested eight classrooms, a science lab, lunchroom facilities, an office area with storage, restrooms, secure entrances, fields and grass area, and any other facilities that were reasonably equivalent such as gym, library, kitchen, auditorium, and computer lab.

The school submitted that request to the district on Oct. 31, 2012, along with a projected enrollment of 100 students including 95 in-district.

At the same time, Abernathy also requested specific space in the Tehachapi Education Center as long as there was minimal interaction between Monroe High School students and its charter school students.

The district responded by sending a letter to Abernathy on Nov. 28, 2012 stating the need for additional in-district students, since it could only verify 82. The charter school complied.

That set up a Feb. 1 deadline for the district to provide a preliminary proposal for the space to be allocated to Abernathy, but instead it asked for an extension until Feb. 13.

According to Abernathy school board President Teresa Foley, charter school officials plan to view the proposed Jacobsen location on Friday, Feb 22.

If all goes as planned, the charter school will have until March 1 to respond to either proposal, accepting, denying, or making a counter.

Assuming the two sides can hammer out an agreement, a final decision would be expected to be made by May 1.

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