A New View for Bay View
Proposed charter school could replace shuttered elementary.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Bay View Elementary School will close next year, but a new K-5 charter school, Bay View Academy, could open in its place – if a group of New Monterey parents have their way.
The school’s stated mission is to go beyond state standards to nurture kids’ imaginations and thinking skills, a big draw for founding parent Raju Ceerla.
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, in Ceerla’s view, is so focused on improving lagging test scores that it has no options for gifted kids like his daughter: “She gets in trouble because she’s bored.”
But parents like Ceerla must leap significant hurdles if school bells are to ring in the 100-plus-year-old building next September.
The first is probably the easiest: Ceerla says the group already has more signatures from parents of would-be students than it needs. Next, the proposed Bay View Academy would like to set up at the existing Bay View building, but it has a fallback plan if the district says no. The city of Monterey has offered space at nearby Hilltop Elementary, which is now used as a rec center.
Toughest of all might be convincing the school district that the proposed charter’s academic program and finances are sound. The parents argue their application is bulletproof, having been reviewed by a top charter attorney and a school finance expert.
But if Bay View Academy is approved, district schools, already struggling financially and academically, stand to lose some of their higher performers to the charter – and forfeit state funding for children who would attend the new school.
A hallmark of Bay View Academy would be hands-on learning opportunities with potential partners such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Monterey Museum of Art and the Monterey Historical Park.
Teacher salaries would be lower than MPUSD’s, but the trade-off would be greater teacher autonomy, according to Ceerla’s wife, Rochelle Johnston.
The school would be open to all district students. Parents plan to submit their charter proposal to the district next week; if it’s denied, they can appeal to the Monterey County Office of Education.