There’s a movement afoot at Montecito Union to expand the school district to include 7th and 8th grades. At a Tuesday night study session, the district’s lawyers presented two possible options for getting that done. The first would be a district reorganization, which is highly unlikely due to the hurdles it would need to clear — just getting the process started would require a petition signed by 25 percent of the voters in the Santa Barbara district where Montecito Union kids now attend public secondary school. The other option is to start a charter school, also a long process but one that would not require voter approval or input from Santa Barbara Unified.
After the meeting, two fathers of Montecito Union students — Les Mayfield and John Steffen — introduced a loose framework they worked out with a third parent — Jamie Ruffing — for a K-8 charter that would offer a non-classroom K-6 curriculum serving nontraditional students but, in reality, would pay lip service to the state law requiring that a charter school include all grades offered by the district. Joan Crossland, a Montecito Educational Foundation boardmember who is on the fence, is happily sending her 6th-grade son to Santa Barbara Junior High next year, but she said she understands why other people don’t. “They just don’t want their kids to be going through puberty and junior high at the same time,” she said.