March 27, 2014

Fremont School’s charter status to be dropped

Several charter school focus points part of district’s objectives

At the end of June, John C. Fremont School will no longer be a charter school.

The Merced City School District Board of Education on Tuesday night approved a request by teachers to dissolve the charter school status established 19 years ago. The campus at 1120 W. 20th St. remains one of the district’s 13 elementary schools.

Greg Spicer, associate superintendent for administrative services, said it has become much more challenging to maintain charter requirements, which include a heavy parent-involvement component. Before his current role, Spicer was a principal at Fremont for eight years, starting two years after the charter was established.

“Society’s so busy these days,” Spicer said, “that it was hard to get consistent parent volunteers. Many of the charter’s areas of focus have been embraced by the district, including the new Local Control Accountability Plan.”

Board member Darrell Cherf said he is fine with dropping the charter school designation. He said there is little need for a charter school at the elementary level.

The charter school designation will be dropped June 30, the last day of the 2013-14 school year. Charter school regulations allow such institutions to manage more of their site funds locally. The emphasis was placed on visual and performing arts, program-based learning and parent involvement.

Spicer said performing arts and parent volunteerism are stressed under the new Local Control Accountability Plan, a component of the new state funding of local education.

Board member Adam Cox also supported the charter school dissolution.

“The staff decided they wanted to dissolve the charter,” Cox said. “The school’s not going away. I’m looking forward to continued growth at that school.”

Board member Gene Stamm said many parents don’t have the time to do all the things required at a charter school and teachers decided it was best to dissolve it.

Spicer said new regulations impacted staff time, and teachers realized they had less time to spend on goals enumerated in the charter.

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