Innovations Academy, a successful charter school in Scripps Ranch, has moved three times since it opened in 2008. Now the San Diego Unified school board is looking to send Innovations packing again.
School board trustees last week voted to move forward on a deal to lease one of the district’s properties to a private developer that plans to build 264 housing units.
The project has sparked intense pushback from parents and residents who don’t want an apartment complex in the area. But mostly lost in the uproar has been the fate of Innovations, which has been on the Scripps Ranch site since 2011.
San Diego Unified officials say the deal would bring the district $38 million over the lifetime of the lease.
But, at its most basic level, the district is telling a charter school it has to leave so it can use a school property for a non-school purpose. And that’s what stings – not just for Innovations Academy, but for local charter schools that might be watching the situation unfold.
Finding a permanent facility is the single biggest challenge for charter schools, and one of the biggest obstacles to growth.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
How about some additional information. For transparency, I'm a Scripps Ranch resident and I sit on the board of Innovations Academy Charter school.
Two critical items, which do not include all of the other comments and testimony of opposition at the board meeting:
1. As of now, there is no place for IA to move. Evans may say that his interest is in IA and feel comfortable that IA will be able to move, but, the reality is, for 6 plus months, IA has been looking for space that meets the requirements and there just isn't any. So, what happens when IA can not find a place to move? Nobody addressed that scenario.
2. There is a lot of talk about GROSS REVENUE. Namely the amount the district will receive from Monarch for the development: 3M up front and 400K per year over 66 years.
Anybody notice what's missing? Yup - the expense side of the equation. The terms sheet only has Monarch building the STEAM lab shell. The district is responsible for maintenance on the building (for 66 years), capital costs to put learning equipment, ongoing support and upgrade costs for that capital equipment, staffing, busing to make it available to all the district, insurance, benefits, etc... For the supposed sustainable garden, what is the cost to rebuild it (since the current garden already well developed and used for both student learning and community will be bulldozed) and what is the cost to maintain it? So, of the 400K GROSS, what ends up being the actual money the district will receive per year translated over 66 years? I've seen STEAM labs, Thinkabit labs, etc... that cost 400K-1.5M annual operating costs which would effectively eliminate ANY monetary benefit and in fact, could create a net annual loss of revenue.
This on top of EVERY Scripps community planning and schools group unanimously voting to oppose the development and IA's plea to stay. It seems ironic that the final slide of the staff presentation notes that this is precedent setting and beneficial model for the district - so, I guess the district believes that pissing on entire communities and schools who are against a district project is both precedent setting and beneficial.
The argument of the need for money and that this is good for the district as whole which outweighs the local community is not only clearly false, but, short sighted, specious and egregious. BTW - all the money for this project would go into the general fund and then become available for discretionary use by the district and will go to areas outside of Scripps Ranch as well. So, the Scripps community gets absolutely no benefit of this development and not only loses an existing school, but, the potential for another school site as the current cluster schools are actually well over their max enrollments.
At the Board meeting, Trustee Richard Barrera justified his position for tearing down the school to build a massive, 264-unit apartment complex by saying, "It is critical that large employers in the region, like San Diego Unified, step up to the plate and do our part to try to contribute to the need to build more housing and to build more affordable housing." (For the record, only 22 units will be affordable--the rest will be expensive, luxury apartments.)
Maybe Trustee Barrera should re-read the SDUSD's mission statement: "All San Diego students will graduate with the skills, motivation, curiosity and resilience to succeed in their choice of college and career in order to lead and participate in the society of tomorrow."
Show me where it says something about providing housing in SDUSD's mission. How, exactly, does demolishing a school help with the district's mission?
How about the school district just focuses on providing an education to students and let the city and county plan housing.
This deal to put 200+ apartments on an active school site is short sighted
and against the wishes and best interests of the local Scripps Ranch community
How many signatures would it take the locals to start a Recall of a Few
San Diego School Board Members!?
I watched this at the last school board meeting. I watched so many parents, residents of Scripps Ranch, beg the board not to bring over 250 apartments into their neighborhood, clogging their access street, exposing their children to "guns and sex offender." Speaker after speaker said no, but the school board, led by Barrera, chose to vote against the public good.
The parents wanted to keep Innovations Charter open.
But as has happened in the past two plus years, under the Marten and Barrera, the board ignored the public they pretend to involve, ignored what was good for the children and voted to do what Barrera wanted for his President of the Labor Council job...One more development...
To be fair, Kevin Beiser voted for the parents and against the project, Marne Foster was absent, so did not vote and Barrera spoke in favor of building, with McQuary (get a backbone) and Evans voting for it...A 3-2 vote.
Don't they need a 4-1 vote to lease/sell property?
This is absolutely the kind of behavior that forces Charters to do deals with the devil. (aka unscrupulous bond markets, selling of school places to overseas students etc).
I bet the school districts feel backed into a similar corner, that forces them to have to move charter schools off a campus purely for relatively short term financial reasons. But whatever way you look at it, to put a stable and established school (of any kind) through this kind of stress is nonsensical.
Stinks for IA. One of the handful of Charters that holds to the original intention of Charter schools. I do hope they can find a good resolution. Having to share a campus is not good for school, charter or public.