Sunday, February 15, 2015

Meetings about proposed ICEF co-location: Stoner ES "empty" classrooms explained

     This past week, LAUSD held two meetings in the Stoner Elementary School auditorium for parents and community members to inform them of the proposed co-location of ICEF Vista on the Stoner ES campus for 2015/16. Since these were open meetings, I invited ICEF administration, teachers, members of the board and community to attend the meetings so that they could hear first hand the concerns of the Stoner parents and the neighborhood community about any co-location. A few ICEF parents showed up, but no ICEF officials attended.
    Once again, the Stoner community was told that "empty" classrooms on campus would be given to a charter school. Principal Stapleton explained that according to the Prop. 39  co-location assessment, Stoner ES had 15 "empty" classrooms. Prop. 39 methodology only counts as full a classroom with a teacher and a roster of students. Any set-aside rooms or special program rooms are considered "empty." 
     In reality, of the 15 "empty" classrooms, only 1 room is truly not being used. The other 14 "empty" rooms are being used for:  a 60 instrument orchestral music program, a computer lab, art classes, the parents center, a theater program, LA’s Best (after school program), a Speech therapist, a virtual dental clinic; a counselor, a psychologist, a teaching & learning PD, an AP office and adult English education classes for the community.
     Removing any of these rooms and resources would be devastating to the students of Stoner Elementary and the local community it serves.
     Next year, Stoner will also be starting a Bilingual Spanish Maintenance program and building a STEM (Science, technology, engineering & math) laboratory. These programs were not taken into account by the Prop 39 assessment. The bilingual program currently has enough students signed up for 2 classes of K for Fall 2015/16.

     ICEF is asking for 9 rooms. Which of these nine programs would you have us give up or reduce to make space for a co-location? Which programs would you give up if your children and community were involved? The bilingual program? the STEM lab? Music? Arts? Counselor, psychologist, dental clinic? The after school program or theater?
      What do you think the atmosphere will be like on campus? How do you think the Stoner students will feel knowing that they won't have orchestra or art anymore because of the ICEF students are in those rooms? How will the ICEF student feel on campus?

     This co-location would have the local Del Rey community fighting over resources in their own community with their own neighbors. The few ICEF parents who attended the informational meeting expressed concern and distress at what the co-location would truly mean not only for Stoner, but for their own children.
     I hope that ICEF is able to understand that this proposed co-location is a bad idea and the request should be withdrawn immediately, but the Stoner community is not taking any chances and is going to make sure that they hear our concerns loud and clear.

     This coming week, the Stoner community will be conducting a letter writing/emailing campaign and collecting signatures for a petition opposing the colocation to present to the ICEF Board of Trustees at their monthly meeting this Thursday, February 19.
     Our hope is that ICEF will drop its bid for rooms and not continue the colocation process past the March 1 deadline to respond to the Feb 1 preliminary co-location proposal.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

LAUSD Report card released, confirms colocation created safety concerns

   In January, we received the 2013/14 report card for Stoner Avenue Elementary School. The results were good and the school improved on many measures. However, there was one measure that went down significantly: campus safety.

     For the school years 2011/12 and 2012/13, 84% of Stoner ES parents responded "my child is safe on school grounds." Yet for 2013/14, the year of the co-location, only 67% of the parents agreed "School grounds are safe." Why the drastic drop?
     The report card has been discussed at various meetings of different school councils and committees and when the issue of safety came up, the majority opinion was that the co-location of CWC Mar Vista was the safety issue.
    During the co-location, parents were concerned about what was happening on the CWC side of campus: CWC students bullying Stoner special needs students in the bathroom, CWC parents and teachers in the students' only bathroom; CWC leaving their entrance gate open and unlocked so that CWC parents could enter campus freely, a special needs child escaping campus; and most disturbing of all that a CWC student was stripped naked and hosed down on campus.
    All of this created great concern for the parents about the safety on campus of the Stoner students. The consensus opinion of the Stoner ES parents was that the co-location made the campus less safe for our children.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

¿Co-location? ICEF requests space at Stoner for 2015/16

    After last year's disastrous co-location of Citizens of the World Charter Mar Vista at Stoner Avenue Elementary School, we didn't expect a co-location request so soon, but today we received notice from LAUSD that ICEF Vista Elementary Charter Academy has requested a co-location at Stoner ES for 2015/16.
     I hope ICEF knows what they are asking for. The previous co-location united the school and local Del Rey community against co-locations and galvanized both communities' opposition to co-locations at our community schools. The communities' mettle was tested and this time they are experienced and organized.
      The previous co-location was met with petitions, protests (#1, #2, #3) and gang activity. The school year ended with the co-location being terminated and the charter's executive director resigning. If you don't believe it, peruse this blog. It's all documented here. Plus, the story was reported in print media (here, here, here and here), on Television (here and here), and radio (here.)

 ***Is this really happening again? or has Stoner become LAUSD's  joke non-offer like the Horce Mann offer to CWC last year? You know they aren't going to accept, but at least LAUSD could say they offered something. Either way, we aren't taking any chances and will be opposing this co-location full force. For all involved, I hope that ICEF declines this co-location sooner rather than later.