PITTSBURG -- A charter school that plans to open in El Cerrito next school year passed another milestone Wednesday when the Contra Costa County Board of Education approved its operating contract.
The agreement between the Summit K2 Charter School and the board contains some amendments to a memorandum of understanding agreed to when the board approved Summit's application to operate in November.
A key component of the amended memorandum requires Summit to submit a report annually that shows the racial composition of its student body. The school must maintain an ethnic balance that reflects the population of the West Contra Costa school district, within which it operates.
The West Contra Costa school board rejected Summit's charter application in August based on several criteria, including questions about Summit's plans to recruit students in minority and low-income neighborhoods and concerns about difficulties these students might have in reaching the proposed school site east of San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito.
Summit K2 Principal Kelly Garcia responded to concerns over recruiting Wednesday by describing Summit's outreach and enrollment efforts so far.
Summit has accepted 160 incoming seventh graders for an initial class of 120 students. Garcia told board members that an average of about 60 to 70 percent of students accepted eventually enroll at Summit's six other campuses in the South Bay and the San Francisco Peninsula.
The accepted group at K2 is 16 percent white, 24 percent African-American, 9 percent Asian and 46 percent Hispanic/Latino, Garcia said.
This closely parallels the West Contra Costa district, which is 11 percent white, 20 percent African-American, 17 percent Asian and Filipino and 51 percent Hispanic/Latino, according to kidsdata.org, a program of the Lucille Packard Foundation for Children's Health.
Summit has held enrollment fairs at the Richmond Library and visited youth basketball tournaments, tutoring programs and nonprofits that work with kids in minority communities, among other efforts.
"I hang out at one of the local Starbucks in Richmond and go to the Richmond Farmers Market every other Friday," Garcia said.
Summit has two more enrollment events scheduled at the Richmond Library on Wednesday and April 9 to take more applications and start a waiting list that will be used if more spots open up.
Summit attorney Paul Minney said the school is prohibited by state law from establishing racial quotas but is publicizing the school to non-English speakers in their native language along with the targeted recruiting in low-income neighborhoods.
Summit intends to build a middle school and high school by adding a grade level each year for the next six years. The middle school will operate in the building that housed the private Windrush School at 1800 Elm St. in El Cerrito, giving operators two years to find a site for the high school.
The county board approved the revised memorandum by a 3-0 vote, with board members Pamela Mirabella and Ellen Elster absent.