LIVERMORE -- Nearly two weeks after closing on its own campus, the leaders of the Tri-Valley's lone pair of charter schools are preparing for a vote by the Livermore school district's board on possible approval of a third school.

Tri-Valley Learning Corp. -- which operates Livermore Valley Charter School, a K-8 school opened in 2005 and Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High School, which debuted in 2010 -- submitted another application for Portola Academy, a proposed K-8 school that had its application turned down by the district, the Alameda County Board of Education and the California State Education Board over the past year.

The leaders of Tri-Valley Learning Corp. submitted their application on Sept. 18, and the Livermore school district board its expected to vote on the application at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the district offices at 685 E. Jack London Blvd. in Livermore.

Bill Batchelor, Tri-Valley Learning Corp.'s chief operating officer, addressed the board at its Sept. 17 meeting and said the corporation learned a lot from the process and that the new application addresses issues related to the application's previous rejections. The state had approved the schools' two earlier applications for Valley Charter and Valley Charter Preparatory.


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"There are not a lot of changes (in the application), and we address all the concerns throughout the process," Batchelor said. "The new application addresses the concerns that were raised. We are optimistic that things have changed, and we have had better dialogue with the district than before. I think we turned the corner and are hopeful we can work together."

The state Education Board voted 6-3 on July 19 to deny Tri-Valley's application because of the following main points in the petition:

  • that it didn't provide enough information on how the school will handle its proposed diverse and underserved population;

  • its financial plan was overly optimistic;

  • it did not provide the required number of signatures required by state law;

  • its goals and student outcomes were subjective, noncommittal, not measurable and unlikely to be attained;

  • its admission procedure policy did not meet state law;

  • and its expulsion policy did not meet state law.

    Livermore school district officials and leaders have said in the past that the two previous charters school sprang from a movement of parents upset by school closures within the district and that the new application has come from the top down.

    "Our belief is that successful charter schools come from grass roots movements of parents and teachers who are seeking an opportunity to create a new and innovative program, free from many of the restrictions that are placed upon traditional public schools," Chris Van Schaack, the district's assistant superintendent wrote in an email about the district's view on successful charter schools. "Instead, this school came from the 'top down' at TVLC as a means to expand their offerings, not necessarily in response to a defined need in that area, as the population that the school was intended to serve (families in the Junction Avenue area) have not shown an interest in the creation of a new school."

    Batchelor disagreed.

    "We are a grass-roots organization, and all of our leadership, whether it's me or our board members are all community members," Batchelor said. "We all have kids in the system, and this is not something where we flipped a switch and are now a corporate entity."

    A vote on the applications follows Tri-Valley Learning Corp. closing on a $42 million, 20-acre campus at 3168 Constitution Drive in Livermore near Costco.

    The plan is to have Livermore Valley Charter School move to the new campus in February. The campus will also include athletic fields for use by all of its campuses and the community, Batchelor said.

    There is hope that the campus will eventually serve all of Tri-Valley Learning Corp.'s programs.

    "We now have a permanent home that is as high-quality as the programs our schools offer," Batchelor said. "We are now in our eighth year of existence, and the people that dismissed us can see that you can do a real good job and can continue to offer good programs."

    In addition to the purchase of the campus and a third application, the corporation also has its renewal process for Livermore Valley Charter School that starts Nov. 6 with a decision by the school district on Nov. 27.

    IF YOU GO
    A decision on Tri-Valley Learning Corp.'s third application for a K-8 charter school is expected from the Livermore School District at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the district offices at 685 E. Jack London Blvd. in Livermore.