New Charter School OKd For Natomas

Come fall, there will be a new charter school in Natomas.

The Westlake Charter Middle School petition was approved last week by Natomas Unified officials nearly three months after plans for the proposed school stalled.

“The expansion of Westlake Charter into the middle school grades is the culmination of hard work and determination by the school and its parents to fulfill a long-held desire to offer educational services through the 8th grade and prepare the Westlake children for high school,” said Bruce Roberts, president of the Natomas Unified school board.

The petition hit a snag in December when the superintendent recommended it be denied for not meeting several required criteria. The Natomas school board’s approval last week is conditional and hinges on proof of start-up monies from the state, a $50,000 loan from Westlake Charter School to the middle school program, and an updated budget reflecting possible funding cuts – all by a June 1 deadline.

“I am very pleased that we were able to work through all outstanding issues leading up to approval by our partners at the Natomas Unified School District,” said Howard Chan, Westlake Charter School board treasurer. “At the end of the day, the expansion of Westlake Charter School into middle school will ultimately mean more choices for children in our community.”

Westlake Charter School principal Robert Capp said the plan is for the middle school to grow each year, starting with 5th grade. In 2011-12, there will be three classes of 28 students, including the 56 5th grade students currently enrolled at the elementary school. The middle school program will have a math and science focus, he said.

Westlake Charter School will be housed at two different sites starting fall 2011. The kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders will remain at the current site, the former Natomas Middle School campus on Del Paso Road, while 4th, 5th and 6th grades will be five miles away at the Natomas High School Campus on Fong Ranch Road.

“We’re excited. This is going to be a great opportunity for our students and those new students that come to us,” said Capp. “Being on the Natomas High School campus is going to be incredible.”

But not everyone was excited about this news.

That students would be moved to the Natomas High School campus came as a surprise to some Westlake Charter School parents who told THE NATOMAS BUZZ they were not made aware of this possibility. Issues such as how Westlake Charter’s afterschool childcare program will operate on two sites and how resources, including the school’s library, will be split are topics likely to be brought up at tonight’s Westlake Charter School board meeting.

“I am frustrated that the parents were not notified and this information was not discussed before the NUSD board meeting,” parent Tracy Chatters said. “There are other, safer options on the table that should be considered immediately.”

Applications for Westlake Charter Middle School are expected to be available in April for a May lottery pull.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.7


  1. At the board meeting, they stated this moving forward was contingent upon some anticipated grants that Westlake is applying for. This makes sense because the plan should be cost neutral for the district at this point as the district is in serious financial trouble due, in some part, to the charters not paying the industry standard on fees owed to the district. Let’s please not keep looking the other way while the haves subsist at the expense of the have-nots.

  2. Anonymous says

    I guess the days of NUSD giving the charters whatever they wanted are over. It will be interesting to see what is more important to Westlake parents – the charter curriculum or the location. Westlake charter is built on diversity and exposing it’s students to other cultures… seems Natomas High might be a perfect fit!

  3. Anonymous says

    NatomasEducator, have you even seen the campus at Westlake? It is 500 times worse than any other public school in the district. It is built out of old portables, mouse-infested buildings, and lacks proper playground facilities, parking facilities, and it’s main office is a half portable. They have to share their cafeteria with a high school, meaning some kids eat lunch at 10:55 in the morning.

    These students have all the reason in the world to do worse than their Natomas counterparts, but they outwork them year are year. The teacher are also the least paid in the district by far. Their administrators make less as well. Before you spout off inaccuracies, do a little research first.

  4. Anonymous says

    A couple of things:

    First of all students all over the Sacramento region eat lunch between 10:45 and 10:55, it is not a hardship.

    Secondly, I think that it is ridiculous to say that the students at Westlake are “outworking” their Natomas counterparts. I have a student in NUSD not attending Westlake, and I personally find that the point of view that Westlake kids work harder is offensive and elitist.

  5. Anonymous says

    Data doesn’t lie- the school day is longer and the school year is longer. By definition, Westlake kids spend more time in school than any other elementary school in the district. By the end of 5th grade, it amounts to almost a full year more in educational minutes.

    Nobody said lunch at 10:55 is a hardship. But it’s certainly not special treatment!

    In addition, the notion that the charters pay less than they should is entirely bogus. The union complainers can’t have it both ways- complaining that charters don’t share in the cost of expensive students, but then demanding they pay for students they don’t have? The special education costs billed to to the charters far outweigh the amount that is actually spent educating the special education students there. So which is it? They should reimburse the district for services the district isn’t providing to charter students? What about the facilities and services every charter parent pays for in taxes but never receives?

    More teacher union propaganda- no research, just inflammatory statements…wanting cake and eating it too.

  6. Anonymous says

    What fees are the charters not paying industry standard for? How do the charters keep getting approved if the ones that we already have are not paying what they are supposed to? I find that hard to believe given these economic times. I am a parent at both Natomas Charter school and Heron School. I do not feel that Heron School is full of “have-nots.” We have terrific teachers, admninistration, staff and families. I know from friends at other schools they feel the same way.

  7. As a Westlake parent I supported the expansion to a middle school for grades 6 to 8. I was not concerned about the Natomas High School location either. But when they dropped the bombshell on us that not only were the 6 graders going to NHS so were the 4th & 5th graders this upset me greatly. It was a shock to most parents. Most parents found out on the We were told that because of the mouse ridden building, they have nowhere to put our 4th & 5th grade children. New portables are being build for the new kindergarteners coming in tho!
    4th & 5th graders are 8-10 year old children who need playgrounds and should not be exposed to high school student Behavior yet, but most of all they should be allowed to finish their elementary education in an elementary school not on a high school campus. Parents I have spoken too are are not happy with the administration and the board for pushing through with the middle school when they did not have an suitable campus to accomodate us all. Other parents are hoping for the best and a big fence.

  8. Anonymous says

    I have to say I agree with many of the comments above.I have been dissappointed by the anti-charter sentiment that has been propogated based on what money the district needs and feels entitled to, rather than what our children need. At the end of the day, I am the one responsible for providing the best education I can for my children. My child does not owe the district his/her presence at traditional school for the benefit of bringing more dollars to the district. When did education stop being about the student or more about the adults? When I could not get my child into our home school 4years ago due to no openings, the district did not care if we chose a charter school. Now that funds are tight, I should feel badly for choosing a charter school?
    My understanding is that the state gives money to the district specifically for the charter school,and then the district passes this money to the charter school. How is this stealing?
    This myth about taking money from the district sounds more like hypocrisy to me. Even worse is when NUSD shakes their head at those that choose private school.
    We all do what we think is best for our children, and WE SHOULD. Having educational choices is not wrong, no matter how you try to spin it. Bobbie Plough, I hope you are listening. I love the great job Bobbie is doing, with the only exception being her public comments on the charter schools.

  9. Anonymous says

    What have you heard Bobbie Plough say publicly about the charter schools?

  10. Anonymous says

    With all due respect Anonymous on March 14 @1:34, Westlake did not drop a bombshell on us. The split campus and the location were all discussed at the February Westlake board meeting. Were you at that meeting? The board agenda and minutes are posted on our website. Did you read them? For months, the admin has been talking about the fact that the current WCS is outgrowing its current campus, even without the growth & expansion and we need a second location. All discussed at board meetings, Townhall meetings, WAVE meetings. We don’t get to choose our location; the district has a responsibility to provide a safe and adequate location. Natomas High School is not a done deal. (It is leaning that way, but the school is looking into alternatives.) We will also outgrow the Natomas High School location (if that is where they put us) in three years and the district will have to find yet another location.

    About the mouse ridden building…if you were at the March Westlake board meeting, they talked about how we are NOT getting rid of the building. It is too expensive and we would have to take out a loan to pay for half of it, for a building that is owned by the district.

    I applaud the Westlake Board, administration. While it is not an ideal scenario, they are working very hard and doing the best they can. I mean let’s be realistic…we are in a building moratorium, there is no money to be found in this district.

    So keep coming to those Board meetings and you will find out all kinds of things!

  11. Anonymous says

    Someone drank the kool-aid. Yes, the NHS campus was discussed at the WCS board meeting in February. However, it was not on the agenda specifically and came up as part of an update on the middle school expansion. It only came up after Sue Heredia let it slip. It was previously referred to as Site B.

    So it wasn’t like it was public knowledge or announced to parents so they could attend the meeting.

    Oh, and minutes are only posted after they are approved by the board. So in this case, nearly one month later.

  12. Anonymous says

    You are right! I am completely drunk and have no idea what words I am typing.

    But seriously in my most polite typing ever, you seem to like to give a twist to all you say. The February agenda did have middle school expansion as a discussion item. Sue Heredia did not “let it slip.” Bob Capp was under the impression that it was not public knowledge and was still referring to “Site B” Sue simply said that it IS public knowledge because it was public knowledge at the NUSD board meeting the previous night. So Bob quickly said ok it’s at Natomas High School.

    All I am saying is there is nothing sneaky, or anyone dropping bombshells and letting it slip. The knowledge is out there. You may have to give forth an effort and be involved. If you are, great!

    Now leave me alone. I have a bottle of Jameson to work on.

  13. Anonymous says

    If it was public knowledge, why wasn’t an announcement made to ALL Westlake families until 3 weeks later?

    How does the principal not know what is and isn’t public knowledge?

Speak Your Mind