Saugus Union School District staff members are evaluating a fourth petition from Albert Einstein Academy for the Letters, Arts and Sciences, officials said Thursday.
The school’s executive director, who didn’t attend a hearing Tuesday on the charter school’s petition, said he sees demand for the school grow daily; district officials said they didn’t receive answers to lingering questions about the school’s potential for a K-6 site in Santa Clarita.
“We probably asked a total of about 20 questions, and we were told the answers to those questions will be brought to us,” said district board President Judy Umeck.
“Some of the questions that we asked were trying to clarify some of the approvals and the credentialing for the elementary school’s teachers.
With the conclusion of the half-hour hearing. district staff now has 30 days to make a recommendation to the district’s governing board, which members will then decide.
Shapiro explained the schools’ system of governance as operating with a series of boards.
“Each school will have its own board of overseers,” he said. “Each school will have its own governance structure, and then one member from each board will sit on a board of directors for the charter’s management organization.”
The school recently received charters for K-12 brick-and-mortar sites in Ventura County and in Ohio, as well as an extended learning campus in San Diego.
But the school has been unsuccessful in a half-dozen attempts to attain a petition locally.
The petition cost to the Saugus Union district is expected to exceed $150,000 regardless of whether it’s approved.
“We need outside expertise to formulate an objective opinion. Unfortunately that comes at a high cost,” Umeck said. “The outside expertise is in regard to charter law.”
Shapiro said in light of approvals outside of the Santa Clarita Valley, and the demand for Einstein Academy, he didn’t understand why there was so much concern in the petition.
“On a daily basis, the demand and interest for the elementary continues to grow. The existing school now has a waiting list for more than 700 students,” Shapiro said. “Our demand is much more than what our capacity is. We may be up to 1,200 families that want to go to the elementary school.”
The school currently operates a seventh- to 11th-grade charter school under a charter with the William S. Hart Union High School District. It plans to add a 12th grade next year.
It is currently trying for its fourth charter in two years, Umeck said, noting that the process costs in the tens of thousands of dollars each time due to staffing costs and specialist opinions.
“We understand the concern of the community and the expense of this money,” Umeck said. “Unfortunately, this money would have been better served in our classrooms.”