By Gary Walker
Charter operators seeking new homes for the 2013-14 school year recently received the names of locations that they will consider as part of a state law that allows these schools to share facilities and use classrooms on campuses where the Los Angeles Unified School District deems them available.
The Westside, in particular District 4, has become a highly desirable place for charter supporters in recent years.
While at least six local schools could have a charter sharing their campus in August, three are not on the final summary list, which contains the names of the schools where LAUSD is offering space.
Venice High School and Mark Twain Middle School in Mar Vista joined Westminster Avenue Elementary School in Venice as schools that did not make the list, which was released April 2.
Prop. 39, a 2000 voter approved ballot measure, provides charter operators with the opportunity to have space on traditional school campuses where classrooms are considered underutilized or vacant. School districts tender offers to charters at schools where these classrooms exist and charters then determine to accept or deny them.
While it is state law, not all campus-sharing, or colocation, arrangements have gone smoothly.
During 2011, dubbed “colocation spring” due to the number of charter petitions requested and offers given during the months between April and May, a number of schools in District 4, which includes Mar Vista, Venice, Westchester and Del Rey, publicly stated their opposition to charter organizations coming onto their campuses.
Among the concerns of the faculty, parents and administrations at these schools were losing what they see as valuable classrooms that served as parent centers, intervention rooms and sometimes laboratories.
At Marina Del Rey Middle School in Del Rey, teacher Naomi Roth lost her classroom where she taught English as well as the adjacent room, where her students produced the school’s newspaper during “colocation spring.”
“(The loss of the journalism room) is a direct result of this law that seems to be a good idea for some, but not for a lot of students of traditional schools,” she lamented in a 2011 interview.
Westchester Secondary School, a charter co-founded by Westchester parent Ann Wexler, was offered 12 classrooms at Bret Hart Middle School in Los Angeles.
“The mission and vision of our charter is to be a community-based school in the Westchester area. We need to be in Westchester or as close as possible,” Wexler told The Argonaut. “If we have to open elsewhere, our top priority will be to get back to Westchester as soon as possible.”
Goethe International School, which features a German curriculum, has been offered 10 classrooms at Marina Del Rey, where it has colocated for several years. Initially, the charter had planned to leave at the end of the school year but has reportedly accepted the district’s offer.
Another charter, Citizens of the World, has been offered seven classrooms at Stoner Avenue Elementary School in Mar Vista and eight at Braddock Drive Elementary School in Del Rey.
Two Westchester schools might also have company for the next academic year. Ocean Charter has been offered 14 rooms at Westchester Enriched Magnet School and WISH Charter got four at Orville Wright Middle School.
Amino Westside Middle School has accepted a colocation at Cowan Avenue Elementary in Westchester. Amino Westside, a Green Dot school, has colocated with Cowan for two years and is a favorite of some Venice and Mar Vista parents seeking a middle school alternative to Mark Twain.