Misconceptions about charters

CN&R article contributes to misunderstanding

Mr. Weber is principal of the charter Chico Country Day School.

After reading the News & Review article “Shopping for Schools” (by Robert Speer, Aug. 13), I’m reminded of how much inaccurate information there is out there concerning charter schools.

To clear things up, here are the News & Review misconceptions followed by the facts:

Benefits and compensation are less expensive. Chico Country Day School’s employee compensation is very competitive—basically identical to the CUSD’s. Additionally, our benefit costs are higher because we are in a small-group pool, unlike the district, which has the benefit of the larger Butte Schools Self-funded Program.

We use parent volunteers instead of paid custodians. That’s news to our two full-time paid custodians! Parents help out four times per year on a Saturday doing extra beautification projects around campus. Any school could do this if they wanted—charter or not.

Doesn’t offer expensive special-education classes. Chico Country Day is an independent special-education district within the Butte County Special Education Local Plan Area. We are responsible for the full range of special-education services. We have on staff a school psychologist, resource specialist teacher, speech and language therapist and adaptive PE specialist. Through the SELPA we contract for all other services, such as occupational therapist and autism specialists.

If we have students with more intensive needs, we refer those students to other programs in the county and pay the full cost of those services. Only a handful of schools (traditional or charter) offer severely handicapped classes. A funding mechanism through the SELPA funnels additional dollars to those classes.

No program for disabled kids. At Chico Country Day we have a diverse group of students—some who are learning disabled or have autism spectrum disorder, and some who are orthopedically handicapped, including students confined to wheelchairs. Our model is to fully include those students in regular-education classrooms with support and accommodations.

And again, if a student can’t be included into a regular-education classroom, that student is referred to an appropriate program within the county and CCDS pays that cost.

Has no English-learner program. Charter schools are mandated to meet the needs of English-language learners. Teachers at Chico Country Day are highly trained, are CLAD (Cross-Language Acquisition Development) certified, and use the same strategies and materials to teach English learners as those at any other school.