The elementary school formerly known as César Chávez Charter was once again before the Santa Barbara School Board this week as the latest chapter in their efforts to continue providing a dual-language immersion curriculum on the South Coast unfolded. Having already made the decision to close the doors on the school — their hand essentially forced by chronic, below-standard test scores — school leaders are seeking an entirely new charter from the district, changing the name to Adelante (Spanish for “moving forward”) Charter School and, more importantly, revamping how the school operates. Tuesday night, Adelante proponents officially presented their 78-page charter proposal to the board, setting the stage for a possible thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the plan later this month.
Fleshing out the basics of their proposal for the board, Adelante Governance Council President Lee Fleming detailed a proposed program of study that, among other things, would forgo the 50/50 style of Spanish/English instruction currently at César Chávez and replace it with a 90/10 model. That is to say, incoming kindergarten students, regardless of the language spoken at home, would spend 90 percent of their class time learning in Spanish before slowly phasing to a 50/50 blend by 4th grade. Other major changes include a rigorous standards protocol that clearly outlines the performance expectations for students and teachers alike and school-sanctioned assessments to be conducted three times a year, as well as adding two weeks of class time to the school’s calendar.
Technically the board may decide on Adelante within 60 days of receiving a petition for a new charter, but with nearly 250 students, their families, and dozens of faculty and staff members in limbo until a decision is reached (not to mention certain state funding deadlines lurking in May, funding that would help the school’s doors open next fall) school supporters hope a decision can be reached soon. To that end, after laborious deliberations, the board decided to revisit the topic on April 27, when trustees will hear from district staff on the merits of the proposal and potentially vote on it.