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Oxford Prep Coming to Barcelona Hills?

The Capistrano Unified School District plans to move the new charter school Oxford Preparatory Academy to Barcelona Hills Elementary. Barcelona Parents have protested the plan.

This story has been updated.

Staff at Capistrano Unified School District recommend bringing the charter school Oxford Preparatory Academy to Barcelona Hills Elementary, 23000 Via Santa Maria, this fall.

Oxford has agreed to bring fewer students to campus than they are allowed under their charter. The school had planned to teach 528 students on campus and another 100 through independent study.

CUSD staff estimates 359 students from the district will be enrolled at Oxford, said Spokesman Marcus Walton.

“Stunned, disbelief, anger, sadness, dismayed, slapped, wronged,” said parent Linda Shepard, reciting her litany of emotions at hearing the news. Shepard was one of the three parents who spoke out at an April 27 school board meeting.

Under staff's proposal, Oxford agrees to "waive any rights to challenge the District for not providing classrooms" for full approved attendance. It is unclear from the proposal how many students would be moved to Barcelona, but the move does allow Oxford's K-8 population to come to the campus.

Currently Barcelona serves students in grades K-5.

“Honestly it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said parent Kathleen Davies, who was surprised to learn that Oxford’s middle school will also be at Barcelona. “The thought that sixth- through eighth-graders will be at the same school as my first- and third-graders makes me a little nervous about next year.”

If staff's recommendation is approved, Oxford students will meet in classrooms 10-14, as well as portables 12-19 on the Barcelona campus.

The charter school would also have exclusive use of a conference room on the north side of the school. It would share the Barcelona multipurpose room and health office.

Furniture and equipment for the new school will cost the district an estimated $200,000. Oxford would pay the school district $29,500 for the facilities and another $25,000 for utilities under this proposal.

The proposal follows an April 17 announcement from CUSD Superintendent Joseph Farley, who then told parents of the proposal to move the charter school to Barcelona.

“As a parent, I feel as if my school, my child and all of the children of Barcelona Hills have been tossed aside to make room for a charter school that, according to Dr. Farley, the district ‘does not want,’ but ‘is required by law to make accommodations for,’ ” Shepard said, recounting words used at the April 17 PTA meeting.

Some Barcelona parents protested with hand-written signs outside the campus the Friday following Farley's announcement.

At that time CUSD Spokesman Marcus Walton said sharing the facility was "the best decision that can be made" given the state mandate to share facilities with charter schools.

The proposal will be voted on June 13 at 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano.

shelly June 14, 2011 at 04:28 AM
Because of NCLB Las Palmas students were offered transportation to other schools but most didn't take it. Las Palmas teaches the same curriculum as Lobo. Las Palmas has excellent invested teachers. Why should these families go elsewhere? It was the choice of some English speaking families not to attend Las Palmas. Why? Even when subjects were taught only in English many neighborhood English speaking families chose not to attend Las Palmas. Even though there is a diverse population within the boundaries of Las Palmas, San Juan Elementary, RH Dana and Kinoshita non Spanish speaking families choose not to put their kids in these schools. Why? As for test scores, the tests are in English. It does not assess the intelligence or kids ability to learn. I have never put much weight in the yearly STAR standarized tests at Las Palmas or at any school. I did not care one bit that the test scores were low at Las Palmas when I put my children there. The immersion program starts in Kinder. The classes are made up of 50% Native English speakers and 50% Native Spanish speakers. In Kinder the kids are taught about 85 to 90% in Spanish which gradually moves to 50% English and Spanish in 5th grade. Guess what? The kids become bilingual and biliterate
shelly June 14, 2011 at 04:31 AM
Why ask for report cards before the kids are enrolled?
shelly June 14, 2011 at 04:34 AM
How many kids were enrolled without the lottery and why? I would like to see these statistics provided. Who said Opa turned away kids who are under-performing?
shelly June 14, 2011 at 04:52 AM
OC Mom, It is good for the families to stay at Las Palmas because they live in the neighborhood and become part of the school community. Las Palmas has excellent teachers and admininstrators. I think you should actually check out what the immersion program is before you start talking about what you think it is. I am not against your choice for OPA or against OPA. But I am against putting down other schools in order to make your choice seem better and more legitamate. I am also against a new school coming in and displacing students who have been at a neighborhood school . You stated in some of your comments that Journey should move for OPA and that the students of Crown Valley should move for OPA. These students and families are happy with their schools and did not choose OPA so please respect their choice. I am suggesting that OPA become an established school first before it moves a school community out of its "home". Work with the community and gain support. When you made your suggestions about where you want OPA and then tried to justify them by putting down other schools by talking about test scores and referreing us to planted comments on the greatschool.org site you alienated me. Respect other peoples choices and schools. Make your choice, put in the time and work for it but don't do it at other people's children's expense. We all should want all of our kids to be successful. It gives all our kids a better future.
OC Mom June 14, 2011 at 05:52 AM
I suggested other sites that might be more convenient to every parent. Barcelona Hills is not an ideal site for OPA it is too far north and located deep within a residential neighborhood. It appears there's new controversy in our district because now the new West View Academy that is a homeschool High School will be sharing some space at Ambuel Elementary. The face of education is changing. Cuts are being made left and right. It looks like everyone is going to have to give in these types of siturations. I'm looking forward to hearing what came out of the school board meeting tonight as far as any resolution of the site for OPA.
Blackpearl June 14, 2011 at 06:25 AM
Shelly You kept saying OPA should have compromised and get “established” before it moves a school community out of its "home". OPA did concede! They are bringing way less students than what the District approved them for! Forcing OPA to separate the students into two campuses would totally defeat their K-8 model. And it is this very model that many of us parents support and desire! You ask us to respect others’ choices, how about you respecting ours? Yes while it’s important to work with the community and gain its support, OPA are not going to dismantle one of their core beliefs in order to “fit” in. If that was the case then OPA wouldn’t be a Charter school, but rather just another public school. I understand you are upset however I strongly feel your anger is directed in the wrong place. What I want to know is why did CUSD approved OPA when the district has no place to put them? They had the option to reject OPA’s proposal just as SVUSD did but instead they approved knowing full well all about OPA’s core values, missions and model for success. Then they changed the rules in the middle of the game and made OPA the scapegoat! It’s easy to pour all the hate into OPA and their parents, but I don’t recalled getting a phone call from the District asking my opinion of where OPA should go? You give OPA and the parents way too much power and credit in our ability to negotiate or even influence the District’s decision!
Blackpearl June 14, 2011 at 06:33 AM
OC Mom, The way I read your posts was like you were brainstorming (unless you have the power to take actions that we don't know about!) The conclusion is that now matter what actions are taken somewhere, someone will not be happy. Changes good or bad bring anxiety! I just pray all of this will die down before the new school year begins. To be honest... I'm NOT thrilled with the hostility and if I say I'm not concerned for my child's safety then I would be lying. :(
OC Mom June 14, 2011 at 06:42 AM
Blackpearl, You have it right. I was thinking out loud and also trying to reason with Shelly which isn't easy. I think the school site should be more centrally located and I think if CUSD is going to end up closing a school next year anyway due to budget cuts and low enrollment wouldn't it be easier to just be proactive now and move those students to other schools and rent out the campus to OPA. Believe me, I have no power that's why I have to passionately be involved in trying to get my children the best education possible. Did you see my prior post about Ambuel Elementary parents being upset about sharing space with a new homeschool public High School called Westview next year. CUSD is creating a lot of tension in our district these days. I''m hoping we can all work together to make this work for everyone.
Penny Arévalo June 14, 2011 at 06:56 AM
Oxford was approved at Barcelona Hills, the special day students will be moved to Reilly. Working on a story right now (for you late owls!).
Blackpearl June 14, 2011 at 07:29 AM
OC Mom, I'm afraid CUSD does not have the children' best interest at heart. Unfortunately, it's not just CUSD but the whole state of CA! Get "Waiting for Superman" DVD if you have not seen it. Our school system is dismal! The fact that we are spending more money paying teachers' salaries, less money per pupil, increasing classroom size and we wonder why we as a state ranked near the bottom! Our kids are going to have to compete with other kids globally for a spot in college and at this rate they will be facing major obstacles! And here we are bickering over where to put OPA! Time to get some perspective.
shelly June 14, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Blackpearl, Why don't you read my posts and point out where I am pouring hate at OPA. Barcelona is a K-5 school and that is its model. OPA negotiated with the district to change the Barcelona campus to two campus with 8th graders thus changing Barcelona's model instead of taking the offer of two campus'. It was a shared decision between OPA and the district. A shared decision. So it is understandable that the parents of Barcelona are not happy with the shared decision. Wherever the school goes someone is not going to be happy. Reread OC mom's posts on this comment board and on others. She may be brainstorming outloud but as she brainstorms she puts down other schools in order to justify OPA moving to their school site. This is not helpful and it alienates others. She states it would be more convenient for the OPA parents to move to some of these central schools but in her search for convenience for OPA parents she does not see that it would inconveniences others. She justifies OPA moving to these schools because of their tests scores and the greatschool.org site. When you choose a charter or open enroll to another school in the district you are choosing to drive. So arrange carpools and make it work. Don't start putting down schools because you want their campus because the school you choose is too far and it is inconvenient for you to drive to it. We all want what is best for our children so respect everyone's choices.
shelly June 14, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Blackpearl, Didn't the district approve the OPA charter after another district rejected it? Please read Diane Ravitch's review of "Waiting for Superman". It points out several of the statistical errors claimed in the movie. CUSD has great schools and we do not rank near the bottom. My children have attended public schools since kinder and they are getting an excellent education. My oldest is in high school and I would not say that any of my children are the product of a broken system. My 4th grader along with almost every student in his class wrote a book in two languages , editted and re-editted, illustrated it and the teacher had each one published and had a book signing/potluck in her classroom. I attended the potluck book signing with almost every parent in my son's class and read through some of the books that the children had written and illustrated. What most impressed me was the process of the writing and creating the books. This occurred at a title one public school. So before you throw the whole system under the bus look at what is actually happening at some of the schools and in the classrooms. Dismantle No Child Left Behind and invest more money in education and the school system will improve. Parents are ultimately the ones responsible for their children. If parents are failing then the children often fail. You can't blame all of society's problems (poverty, substance abuse, broken homes,etc.) on our education system
Capo Parent June 14, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Shelly As usual, you twist the facts to support your point of view. OPA, which was approved as a K-8 charter school with no condition that it be split between 2 sites, never asked for BH. Instead, CUSD unilaterally placed K-5 of OPA at BH and 6-8 at another facility. OPA rightfully wanted its approved K-8 at one site, just like the other k-8 schools in CUSD (Arroyo Vista & Hankey come to mind). No other K-8 school in CUSD is split between 2 sites, and neither should OPA. CUSD decided to place all of OPA at BH, and in the interest of compromise OPA accepted (wow, OPA being reasonable), even though BH is probably one of th worst sites for OPA given its location. Why your profess concern for what happens with OPA or BH? Have you ever been to BH? Have you ever gone to a board meeting to advocate for BH? Have you written to anyone at CUSD advocating for BH. You continue to ignore reality and the simply fact that CUSD had better options as to where to place OPA, but chose not to explore them. This is likely because it appears CUSD is using OPA as cover to effectively close BH as a neighborhood elementary school without actually having to do so. CUSD has no problem rolling over parents and students when it suits its needs. Another case in point, the developing disaster at Ambuehl. Let's see you defend CUSD on that one. I guess you'll blame the parents at Ambuehl for not wanting to share their campus.
OC Dad June 14, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Shelly, Just to better understand your position in this discussion, do you work for CUSD? or do you have relatives or friends that work for the district? I assume your kids must go to BH? I only ask because you seem to be very commited to stopping the OPA kids from having a school site. I do not have kids at BH but I do have children in the district schools and I would like to see them have more options for their education within CUSD. All, Just a count of hands who attended the board meeting last night? My wife was there, I was at home with the kids. Thanks
Blackpearl June 14, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Shelly, You have been on the attack since day 1. If this is your definition of love/support then I am scared to see when you hate. You said "If parents are failing then the children often fail. You can't blame all of society's problems (poverty, substance abuse, broken homes,etc.) on our education system". I sure as heck can and I do! My tax $ are going toward my child’s edu, yet the District give me NO VOICE on how they educate my child. Kids spend 7.5hrs/day in school so you better believe that I hold the schools responsible for my child's edu! If the State or even down at the District level are not up to the task, then give us parents the options to seek an alternative method such as OPA. I’m happy that you think your kids are receiving quality edu, and perhaps you are correct in stating that CUSD is not ranked near bottom, but taken as a state, CA is near bottom compared to the rest of the nation! So just because our District performed well comparatively to the other Districts, does not mean our kids are on par with the rest of the country let alone the world! By not fighting for OPA I would be guilty of the very thing you stated; failing my child. If it was up to me I would want to take the $ that was assigned to my child and put her in the school of my choice, whether it’s private, public or charter. If Sweden, Chile, Hungary, Czech Republic can do it why are we the world leader so far behind? Does that sound like a country that put our children 1st?
OC Dad June 14, 2011 at 06:41 PM
Ravitch is in support of the labor unions on this issue. They do have an agenda to serve adults first and then children. Ravitch is currently promoting this march in Washington DC supported by all of the Big Labor Unions see here: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/about/endorsers/. You cannot possibly argue Ravitch has no agenda when she reviews waiting for Superman. Just thought I would clear this up. Also I am not anti union, I just think they truly need to make sure their agenda is not at the expense of a childs education.
shelly June 14, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Black Pearl, Please reread my posts and tell me where I am attacking OPA. I support your choice to go to OPA. But I do not support OC Mom's "brainstorming" and attitude about why OPA should go to certain campus's because it is convenient for OPA parents and the schools at the campus's are somehow inferior to OPA because some website said so. I support the concept of charter schools and alternative education and choice. I do not support vouchers because I do not want my tax dollars going to schools that can exclude children based on race, ability, ability to pay, behavior, etc. I support public education for all. CUSD does have good schools and my children are receiving a great education. I don't believe it. I know it. So you blame poverty, substance abuse and broken homes on our education system. So the family or the enviroment in which a child grows up has no influence so all kids start out as a blank slate and the education system is the problem? Why do more affluent areas have higher test scores? Finland has the number one school system. Check it out. As a country they value their education system and their teachers.
shelly June 14, 2011 at 08:02 PM
BlackPearl, Yes, the district does give you a choice. The district has voted yes to charter schools. You can home school. You can go to private school. You can go to any public school of your choice if there is space because our district has school of choice. I am happy with my choice and my children's schools are not failing. Please respect the choice of us parents who choose to keep our children in a district that we do not believe is failing. And even if your child is in a charter school they are in the "failing public system". And again. Point out my hate. Just because I don't agree with OC mom doesn't mean I hate her or OPA.
shelly June 14, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Capo Parent, The district offered OPA two campus to house its K-8 school. OPA negotiated a different deal. So both decided and negotiated not just the district. Correct. So why blame everything on the district. Didn't the board which doesn't always agree vote 7-0 to approve the charter? What was the vote to approve the site? As I stated before I do not believe that it is fair to move kids to cater to new charter schools and if this is happening at Ambuehl I don't agree with it. Legally the district must provide space. I also don't understand why if there is space at the district office it cannot be utilized for an online high school. The district must legally provide space for charter schools it approves. It must compromise with the community. Not everyone is going to be happy. What was the better option for OPA? Where should the new online high school go?
shelly June 14, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Did you read the review?
shelly June 14, 2011 at 08:36 PM
I have 4 kids in three different schools. I don't have relatives who work for the district. I count the teachers that my children have as friends so I have friends who work for the district. I have friends who attend schools and homeschool throughout the district. Private, public and charter. I support choice. I do not however support the brainstorming choices of OC Mom. I do not believe that you should try to get what you want by putting down others which is what happened on this comment board and another comment board. I have a good friend whose child may go to OPA. Her child was picked in the lottery. I have encouraged her to follow her heart. Carpool to wherever it is and as the school grows and is established and as the district changes the location may change. I feel bad for the families of Barcelona who must move. Just because my children do not attend Barcelona I am allowed to feel bad for people whose children will be uprooted from their school to make way for others.
shelly June 14, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Do they have No Child Left Behind in Chile Hungary, Czech Republic or Sweden? Probably not. Dismantle No Child Left Behind and invest more money in education and the school system will improve.
Blackpearl June 14, 2011 at 08:55 PM
Sigh... this is like chewing water. I've said what I needed to say. But I'm done defending or justifying OPA to Shelly. Time to move on. Peace.
Sharon Mata June 14, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Once again Thank you Shelly for standing up for what you believe in .
Capo Parent June 14, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Shelly You ask a ton of questions, why don't you answer them? If you don't know the answer to your questions, then pose them to the entity that is in a position to answer them, CUSD.
Capo Parent June 14, 2011 at 11:05 PM
I understand your frustration. As the noted comedian Ron White is found of saying, "you can't fix stupid!"
shelly June 15, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Capo Parent, Peace.
shelly June 15, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Capo Parent, "You continue to ignore reality and the simply fact that CUSD had better options as to where to place OPA, but chose not to explore them." I asked you the question because I wanted to know the better options that you stated CUSD had. How many kids would these better options displace?
Capo Parent June 15, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Shelly We won't know since CUSD conducted the whole process under a shroud of darkness. Schools that come to mind are Viejo and Crown Valley. Viejo is no longer a neighborhood school, it is a destination school that houses Spanish emersion. That program could have been moved to another site since most students at that school come from outside the Viejo neighborhood. And stop the faux complaining about students and familes being displaced. The 2 way program at Las Palmas displaced families. I didn't see that you boycotted Las Palmas as a sign of solidarity with the displaced families. Maybe that's because you really wanted your kids in the 2 way program and you got your wish. Ok for you, but not ok for the OPA families who just want a suitable site for their school. Double standard comes to mind.
shelly June 15, 2011 at 11:28 PM
Capo Parent, When I placed my children in Las Palmas no neighborhood children were displaced. Las Palmas became a full dual immersion school after my children were there. Children in my youngest childs grade are still accepted into Las Palmas because there is still an English Only class. My children are not displacing another child. And as I stated before I did protest the decision to the principal. The majority of Spanish Speaking children in the Las Palmas neighborhood still attend Las Palmas. Before Las Palmas offered dual immersion English Speaking families in the neighborhood used their school of choice option and went to Lobo or Concordia. How many students at Viejo and Crown Valley will be displaced? And why do you think an immersion school (that also holds a lottery to get in because people want the choice) should be moved in order to place a new charter school there? Is the charter school more worthy? Where are most of the kids from OPA coming from?

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