Charter schools will again be seeking classrooms space this year in the Los Angeles Unified School District and The Argonaut has learned that four schools in District 4 will be confronting that possible scenario.
The schools that have been identified are Cowan Avenue Elementary School in Westchester, Stoner Elementary in Del Rey, Venice High School and a new K-5 school in Playa Vista, known as Central Region Elementary School, or CRES #22.
Cowan is presently colocating with Green Dot Public Schools, which hopes to add a seventh grade to its existing sixth grade class for the 2012-13 school year.
LAUSD School Board Member Steve Zimmer does not think that 2012 will be a repeat of last year’s “colocation spring,” when schools throughout District 4 were faced with the possibility of having a charter school on their premises. District 4 is comprised of schools in Westchester, Del Rey, Mar Vista and Venice that are in The Argonaut coverage area.
“The pressure points are different this time,” Zimmer said.
Two schools that were flashpoints during “colocation spring” were Westminster Avenue Elementary School in Venice and Grand View Boulevard Elementary School in Mar Vista.
Supporters of Grand View argued that having a charter school would jeopardize their popular Spanish-English language immersion program.
“We made a very, very clear argument that they could not grow that program with a charter school on campus,” Zimmer said.
Irene Perez, a second grade teacher at Grand View, expressed her frustration last year with LAUSD’s method of determining which rooms at a school are considered to be available or not used to their full capacity when her school was faced with a possible colocation with Inner City Education Foundation.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me that because we have rooms that are not used for traditional teacher-student classrooms, the district is using them as set-asides to give away to charter schools,” the teacher said in a 2011 interview. “If they take them, we won’t have a computer room, we won’t have a science lab, we won’t have an arts center.
“And the kids need more enrichment than just being in a classroom with a teacher all day long.”
Despite inquires by The Argonaut last year, LAUSD officials would not reveal their methodology for assigning classrooms to charters.
Much of the anger and resentment from traditional schools centers around the fact that the district’s frequent offers to charters include parent and intervention centers, as well as language laboratories.
Westminster withstood an attempt by Green Dot, which asked for eight classrooms, to colocate on its campus. Green Dot withdrew its petition for space at Westminster after parents and faculty at the elementary school launched a sustained and vocal opposition campaign.
Zimmer said the school’s enrollment numbers would largely determine any future possibilities for colocation at Westminster.
At Grand View, he does not foresee any charters sharing their campus due to the dual language initiative.
“I’m fairly comfortable saying that program growth will largely take a charter colocation off the table,” Zimmer stated.
Mar Vista Elementary School also dodged a colocation bid from WISH Charter last year and will not be faced with that possibility this year.