Charter to pursue new program, petition

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Charter to pursue  new program, petitionOfficials of Ridgecrest Charter School announced this week that the school will refocus its attention on launching a new petition, postponing its appeal to the California State Board of Education, previously scheduled for next week.

“We have always planned for fighting for the existence of our school,” said Principal Steven Martinez. “But we changed our strategy based on our likelihood of success.”

The SBE meeting in Sacramento would appeal recommendations from a state committee and commission to deny continuation of the charter, citing declining test scores.

The RCS Board of Directors announced at a meeting last week that it was putting together a contingency plan to keep the school open — starting a second school under the existing articles of incorporation and transferring the assets of the current operation to the new title in the event of a charter denial.

Martinez said that this week officials decided to focus on that contingency plan and are working to have a draft charter for the Ridgecrest Elementary Academy of Language, Music and Science completed by the end of the month.

“The decision will allow the new school to expedite through the chartering process in order to ensure that the school can open for the 2019-20 school year,” reads a press release from RCS dated March 3.

The school will continue offering curriculum to to transitional kindergarten- through sixth-grade students, with a focus similar to the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) model.

“This decision reflects the best path to ensuring successful resolution,” states the press release.

Martinez noted that he has been working with Sierra Sands Unified School District officials as well as representatives from the Office of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools.

“Everyone I am working with has been collaborative in working toward a successful petition,” said Martinez.

He said that parents were notified on Monday, and that he hadn’t yet heard any feedback about the plan.

In accordance with state code, the charter school will first submit the charter to Sierra Sands. In the event of a denial, RCS will seek a partnership with the county office to carry the petition.

If that process is successful, RCS might cancel its appeal to the state — which has been rescheduled for May.

“I think, as of late, everyone has been very collaborative,” said Martinez. “There are a lot of people who want to see a public school choice in our community. I think we are on a positive path toward that right now.”

Story First Published: 2019-03-08