Update: Proposition 39 Facilities

At a meeting on November 12th, Assistant Superintendent Dick Moss presented initial space projections as required by the Proposition 39 process initiated by Pacific Collegiate School. The charter school will be offered classroom and shared facilities based on the adjusted projection of 267 in-district students, or 56% of the PCS student population. Using a comparison group of the three district high schools and two middle schools, Moss established a ratio of PCS to district students and factored in district teacher to student ratios to determine that the school would be entitled to approximately 9 regular classrooms. After factoring in shared uses such as science labs, computer labs and library facilities, the allocation rises to approximately 13 classrooms for the school’s 267 in-district students.

Moss explained that Prop 39 requires the district to attempt to provide contiguous space, meaning all 267 in-district students should be accomodated on a single campus, if space allows.  Classrooms within a campus do not have to be adjacent; they would likely be spread across the facility. Moss also addressed the need for close administrative coordination as PCS currently offers a 6-period day. Harbor and Soquel High Schools run on a 3 period block schedule; Santa Cruz High uses the 4 period Excel program. The use of athletic facilities for after school sports was not addressed. Under Prop 39, PCS would have access to athletic facilities during the school day if they offered PE classes. At this time the school does not offer PE, an exemption allowed by their charter status.

Use fees for space are required under Proposition 39; the formula for determining fees is established by the Education Code. Moss estimated that fees for 2009/10 would be $3.30 per square foot.  The actual square footage offered to PCS has not been determined yet.

PCS parents spoke after the presentation expressing concern about how the PCS “experience” would be preserved under the Prop 39 scenario. One parent was specifically concerned about how the school could continue to offer the small class sizes essential to the program.  Moss explained that PCS class size preferences are not a consideration under Prop 39; space is offered based on the district’s class size, or “load”. Board President Shrestha Ross expressed appreciation for the transparency of the district’s response to PCS’ Prop 39 application.

We heard from PCS parents after the meeting that there is still some confusion as to how the school will split its program under Prop 39. It is our understanding of the law that the facilities offer will be extended according to residence; students who reside outside SCCS boundaries will be accommodated by PCS in separate, private facilities. We presume that this would require the school duplicate its program.

It was clear to many in the room that the reality of Proposition 39 was “new news” to the PCS parents in attendence. The Prop 39 path would have a tremendous impact on PCS’ identity, program, operations and most certainly, its students. We are especially concerned for the 200 out of district students who would be housed in rented facilities off-campus. We hope that the PCS board kept these students in mind as it weighed the new offer to remain at the Natural Bridges campus.

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