By Cody Drabble
A parent-led petition to add a new charter school to the Sacramento City Unified School District could be voted on Thursday.
More than 50 parents and children attended a presentation last week on converting the recently closed Joseph Bonnheim Elementary School into a dependent K-6 charter school—governed by an independent board of parents and teachers, but with district support and resources. Only three of the 15 charter schools in the district are dependent.
According to district spokesman Gabe Ross, the Bonnheim campus is being used for temporary storage until early 2014, when an advisory body known as a “7-11 committee” was to recommend a long-term use for it and six other shuttered schools.
But the committee might not get the chance. If the board greenlights the charter at its December 19 meeting, the campus will likely be removed from the committee’s purview. The petition is unusual because it’s conceptually tied to a particular campus; a typical charter petition seeks board approval first and requests a campus site second.
Jessica Arrianga, who chose her home based on its proximity to Bonnheim for her two youngest children, hopes the board will approve the petition. She said that closing Bonnheim and splitting its students between Earl Warren and Peter Burnett elementary schools fractured the community and made it harder for parents to stay involved in their kids’ education. “When they closed the school, they took such a vital piece of our neighborhood,” Arrianga told board members on December 12. “It was the only thing we had.”
Board member Gustavo Arroyo, who represents the area with the Bonnheim campus, urged his fellow members to support the petition while acknowledging the fiscal scrutiny it faces.