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Opinion: The Truth About Co-Location

Local parents recently learned a charter school is slated to move on to the Micheltorena campus next fall. Allison Bajracharya, Managing Regional Director, Los Angeles California Charter Schools Association, explains how the co-location works.

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We still have a lot of work to do in Los Angeles to improve our public schools and make sure that every student receives a great education. Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of misinformation about charter schools and co-locations put out there recently, so I wanted to share some more information to help parents and community members understand this issue.

Since 1993, charter schools have been a part of public education in Los Angeles, growing in response to demand from parents. In fact, currently, there are over 10,000 students on charter school wait lists in Los Angeles.

However, one major challenge that charter schools face is finding school facilities. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of charter schools that are co-located at traditional campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which means two public schools sharing the same campus. For instance, the charter school uses a set of classrooms or portables and shares common spaces like the cafeteria and playing fields.

There are currently about 50 co-locations in LAUSD, including some sites where charter schools and district schools work together collaboratively and have a positive relationship. Positive co-locations are generally a result of community support and respect for multiple public school options and school leaders’ asset-oriented mindset around opportunities for collaboration, partnership or simply put, mutually respectful co-habitation.

Charter schools are public schools!

Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools that are open to all students. There are currently 210 charter schools operating within the boundaries of LAUSD, serving more than 80,000 students.

Unlike district public schools, charter schools are not automatically provided facilities.

Instead, they must either request facilities from the local school district or search and pay for a private facility,  often at market rates. The California law Proposition 39 requires school districts to make "reasonably equivalent" facilities available to charter schools, and charter schools reimburse the district for their proportionate share of the district’s facilities costs. The principle behind Prop. 39 is very simple – charter school students are public school students and deserve to have access to safe, quality public school facilities in which to learn, just like other public school students.

Charter schools usually do not ask for co-locations.

Charter schools want what any school wants – a permanent home with plenty of space for their students to learn and play. In the fall, they submit a request for facilities to their local school district, which includes, among other things, their attendance projections and a description of the neighborhood where they want to locate. On Feb. 1, the district sends a preliminary offer to schools, proposing facilities for the charter school’s use. In LAUSD, these have generally been offers of co-locations.

The charter school has until March 1 to respond to this proposal with any concerns, and the school may make counter-proposals for different facilities. Charter schools must request facilities each year, unless the district offers multi-year arrangements to the schools. Many districts offer multi-year arrangements in which entire campuses or administrative facilities are allocated to one or more charter schools.  Districts and charter schools can also enter into alternative agreements regarding facilities or funding in-lieu of facilities.

This is not and should not be about “Us vs. Them.” It’s about our kids.

We all agree that all public school students deserve adequate, safe school space to learn and play. Charter schools are an integral part of public school options that are working in Los Angeles.  In order to ensure that all students have access to high quality options, it is critical that the entire community embrace reforms that are working—and not pit one against the other.  

Find out more about Prop. 39 and how it impact students: http://www.calcharters.org/2010/09/about-proposition-39.html

About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 982 charter public schools and over 412,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. Learn more about charter schools at www.calcharters.or

Joan Kramer January 23, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Too bad charter companies feel the need to pay parents to rally for them. Too bad the amount of money they are making off the public is never public. Too bad they are just fighting against the rights of teachers to have decent benefits and pensions. Too bad that they mask all that they do in the needs of our children. There is NO evidence that charters do better -- in fact, it's a myth they like to portray to parents who of course want only the best for their children. Get rid of big bureaucracy but don't turn over schools to charter companies that know nothing about teaching.
Cheryl Ortega January 23, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Charter schools are publicly funded and privately operated. So tax dollars pay for them and private companies run them. Every tax dollar that will help support the co-located charter school on the Micheltorena campus will be one less dollar that goes to Micheltorena and other neighborhood schools. In an ever-increasing lack of transparency, LAUSD held no public meetings, conducted no neighborhood impact survey, nor got imput in any way from the impacted Silverlake community. Everything Joan says is accurate. It is so sad to see parents lied to and preyed upon. Our de-funded legitimate public schools could serve our kids much better if they received the tax dollars that go to charter schools.
Dwain Wilson January 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM
This is a sad day for public education in our community. There needs to be a robust public discussion about how charter schools are impacting our society. What I can't understand is why people would rather "reinvent the wheel" rather than put that time, energy and money in making their community schools better. Since, as already (and correctly) stated that charter schools perform no better than public schools, the only remaining argument in their favor is (as pointed out by Diane Ravitch in the Death & Life of the Great American School System) nothing more than "separatist." We are well on our way to creating a two-tiered education system in our city where the boundaries are not geographic but rather those between the haves and have nots. It's time to wake up and take back our schools. Occupy a Charter anyone?
Scott Folsom January 23, 2012 at 05:44 PM
The CCSA is a partisan booster association that advocates for the charter industry. Charter school supporters like to paint them as public schools, but charters have been found to be anything but public. Charters are privately managed entities whose only claim to the word public is that they use public funds. Dozens of court cases have ruled that charter schools are not "public entities." Well known examples include the following: The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled that charter schools are NOT "public actors" in 2004: “Horizon is a private, non-profit corporation that operates a charter school in Arizona”. | http://1.usa.gov/8CODV4 The California Court of Appeals ruled that charter schools are NOT "public agents” in 2007: “Public agency” means a district, public authority, public agency, and any other political subdivision or public corporation in the state, but does not include the state or a county, city and county, or city.” (§ 53050) Consistent with our holding above, if it is a nonprofit public benefit corporation, we find that (Palisades Charter High School) is not a “public agency” within the meaning of § 53050.” | http://bit.ly/zUOu7O The US Census Bureau (which categorizes and enumerates things for the US Government) – classifies them as ‘private charter schools’. http://bit.ly/jwakty Thank you to Dr. Robert D. Skeels for this research. http://bit.ly/ticH4y
Stephanie Widmer January 23, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Allison, thank you for sharing this!
Scott Folsom January 23, 2012 at 06:13 PM
In fairness I want to add that the strange bedfellow combination of the California Charter School Association and I stood in front of the LAUSD Board of Ed last week and advocated that the Prop 39 co-location discussion and offers-of-schools-to-charters needed to be held in public and not rubber stamped in private by the board as a consent agenda item. It would've taken one vote from any one of of the seven board members to pull the item from consent for the open discussion. The board had already voted prematurely before the public comment ...but was given the opportunity to vote again to keep it legal. That one 'wait-a-minute'/'not-so-fast' member didn't materialize. So much for transparency+accountability. and profiles-in-courage. The list of the schools offered by the superintendent for Prop 39 co-location without discussion by the Board of Education is here: http://bit.ly/zwJsz5
Lisa Baca-Sigala January 23, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Local Distrcit Schools are 100% local district children - charter schools are not! Based on the current Gabriella Charter colocation at Logan Elementary-Less than 35% of the students come from the local 90026 area. Daily LIMITED Logan resources that DO have 100% 90026 students have to be shared with Gabriella Charter. WIth all due respect to Allison Bajracharya, the process by which LAUSD and colocation are placed on district campuses is HORRIFIC! It would be nice to have LAUSD Jose Cole Gutierrez and LAUSD Charter Division follow LAUSD Facilities guidelines and do COMMUNITY OUTREACH - just like selectnig sites before emenint domaine of local homes. The Gabriella Charter colocation at Logan Elementary, has been a LIVING HELL for Logan. A MULTI YEAR 4 year non review (Prop 39 annual review is MIA) Gabriella's agreement was signed and executed before any COMMUNITY OUTREACH was done. LAUSD is now trying to do the SAME BACKROOM COLOCATION agreement s with Los Feliz Charter at Elysian Hts Elementary in addition to the Micheltorena colocation. The deadline for LAUSD offers is next week Feb 1st and the community is the LAST to know with charter applications being turned in November 2011. Local district schools (not private charters) anchor communities. If charter schools are doing the right thing then be ETHICAL - hold OPEN COMMUNITY meetings, see if they REALLY want to embrace you as a learning center in their community. Thank you, Lisa Baca, CIO GEPENC
Lisa Baca-Sigala January 23, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Local Distrcit Schools are 100% local district children - charter schools are not! Based on the current Gabriella Charter colocation at Logan Elementary-Less than 35% of the students come from the local 90026 area. Daily LIMITED Logan resources that DO have 100% 90026 students have to be shared with Gabriella Charter. WIth all due respect to Allison Bajracharya, the process by which LAUSD and colocation are placed on district campuses is HORRIFIC! It would be nice to have LAUSD Jose Cole Gutierrez and LAUSD Charter Division follow LAUSD Facilities guidelines and do COMMUNITY OUTREACH - just like selectnig sites before emenint domaine of local homes. The Gabriella Charter colocation at Logan Elementary, has been a LIVING HELL for Logan. A MULTI YEAR 4 year non review (Prop 39 annual review is MIA) Gabriella's agreement was signed and executed before any COMMUNITY OUTREACH was done. LAUSD is now trying to do the SAME BACKROOM COLOCATION agreement s with Los Feliz Charter at Elysian Hts Elementary in addition to the Micheltorena colocation. The deadline for LAUSD offers is next week Feb 1st and the community is the LAST to know with charter applications being turned in November 2011. Local district schools (not private charters) anchor communities. If charter schools are doing the right thing then be ETHICAL - hold OPEN COMMUNITY meetings, see if they REALLY want to embrace you as a learning center in their community. Thank you, Lisa Baca, CIO GEPENC
Robert D. Skeels February 19, 2012 at 07:58 PM
We all appreciate that Allison Bajracharya, like all of the wealthy executives of the CCSA, is paid handsomely to promote their business scheme that bilks the public for countless dollars while disempowering our communities. As the above is pure corporate propaganda, let me counterpose the factual and social justice based answer to the business speak promulgated above. The Truth about Proposition 39 Colocations http://echopark.patch.com/blog_posts/the-truth-about-proposition-39-colocations Every once in a while these charter charlatans tell the truth about thier lucrative endeavors. Todd Ziebarth, the vice president of policy for the National Alliance for Public [sic] Charter Schools, said this to the New York Times: "In starting a new school, you are also launching a small business." There we have it, charter schools are a business. I appreciate Mr. Folsom's kind words, but want everyone to know I don't posses a Doctoral Degree. Since I write for Schools Matter with Dr. Horn, Dr. Krashen, and Dr. Thomas, it's easy to see why someone would think I also have a Ph.D., but my life opportunities haven't allowed for that -- yet.
Teresa Sitz March 09, 2012 at 02:54 AM
"Colocation" is the wrong word. The prefix "co" means "with" or "together". The colocation of a charter school in Los Angeles is decided between LAUSD and the charter school corporation. The school to which they are "colocating" is not consulted, and has no say in the matter. Not "co-". Not "with". Not "together". "Seizure", "confiscation", "invasion" and "occupation" are all more accurate descriptions of the process.

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