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Oxford to Grow, Barcelona Hills to Close

Capistrano Unified trustees made the emotional decisions that affect hundreds of families.

A new charter school will add more students next year, and the elementary school with which it has been  will close.

The ’s Board of Trustees made the separate decisions Wednesday night before hundreds of parents who packed the trustee chambers and took advantage of a “spillover” room.

Afterward, parents and teachers from Mission Viejo-based hugged and cried and encouraged each other to hold their heads high.

“Even if we did not choose to increase enrollment [at Oxford Preparatory Academy], we would still be obligated to provide 21 of the 27 classrooms at Barcelona Hills,” said Julie Hatchel, assistant superintendent of education services.

By allowing Oxford to grow from its already approved maximum enrollment of 628 to 772 students – 100 of whom are in the charter school’s independent study program and come to campus only a couple times a week. The charter now needs 25 of those classrooms, Hatchel said.

Under voter-approved Proposition 39, school districts must make classrooms available to charters that serve district students. Charter schools are public schools, but are freed from many of the restrictions that apply to regular public schools.

Sue Roche, executive director of Oxford, which runs a similar program in Chino Valley, said the school needs to expand to accommodate the many siblings who are split among schools because families could not enroll all their children in Oxford.

Shelby Barone’s family is one of them.

“My child in the independent study program wants so badly to have a full-time spot in Oxford prep. She wants to have a desk to hold her pencils, a wall to hang up her artwork and a teacher to greet her every day,” Barone said.

Others, like Lauren Tran’s children, would go to Oxford if only they could get in, she said.

“Please make our signatures count,” she said. “Please give parents like me the opportunity to choose.”

Meanwhile, several parents from Barcelona Hills spoke against the expansion. Michael Nemic called the proposal “reckless” and not made in a spirit of cooperation with Barcelona Hills. Barcelona dad Patrick Mallon said the school district was engaging in the time-honored tradition of “divide and conquer.”

Trustee Ellen Addonizio said the district did bring the upon itself when it decided last year that Oxford and Barcelona would share a campus.

“It did become a turf war,” she said. “We did that. Maybe it could’ve been handled a little bit differently.”

Trustee Lynn Hatton was the only trustee to vote against the expansion. She said Oxford’s five-month history in Capo Unified was not enough history to establish that the program is successful.

“We just don’t have the data to prove that yet,” she said.

In tackling the issue of facilities, Hatton pleaded for families from both schools to carry on with the rest of this school year respectfully.

“Please, be kind to each other,” she said.

The two sides have had their since the beginning of the school year.

By the time the trustees broached the subject of facilities, few wanted to speak. Only Adrian Montgomery, a mom from Barcelona Hills, took the microphone.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” she said. She added she hopes her son’s teachers can follow him to his next school.

Hatchel said Barcelona’s about 220 students would have preferential enrollment into either  or .

The trustees voted unanimously to allow Oxford to have all but two classrooms of the Barcelona campus. The trustees also looked at several proposed changes to how Oxford runs its own board meetings but decided against making any changes from its current policy of monthly meetings that alternate between Orange County and Chino Valley.

Penny Arévalo February 05, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Hi Shelly, I don't think we've ever met face-to-face, but we travel in the same circles, as our kids go to the same schools. CP, Shelly is" just a mom." Can't say I'm in love with that phrase, though. :-) Patch obviously extends anonymity as an option, so I don't think there's much productivity in trying to figure out who is who unless someone chooses to use his or her own name.
OC Mom February 05, 2012 at 11:54 PM
http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1103629101788-820/OPA+Performance+Data.pdf Please read the attached reports that compare OPA Chino with other Chino Valley Schools and with the average CA State scores. As you can see regardless of race or Special needs the majority of kids scored Proficient or Advanced. The program works, but requires parental involvement and a lot of hardwork from the students.
shelly February 06, 2012 at 04:10 AM
OC Mom, "OPA Chino actually succeeded in raising Special Ed and lower Socio Economic level students scores last year to well above CA State Averages." Where is the data to back up this statement? There were only 2 out of 686 students who were designated as economically disadvantaged and they were not designated as proficienct or advanced. OPA scores in Chino are great but there is no proof that OPA did this alone because OPA has only existed for 1.5 years and all of the students came from other schools. These students could have very well had high test scores before coming to )OPA. I am not against OPA. I am not against charters. I agree that there should be choice in schools. I just do not agree with mistatements and putting down others for their choices. "We have already seen no matter how much money the local or Federal Governments throw at schools if the students aren't motivated to learn and the parent's aren't involved there is limited success. I guess that's why even with small class sizes, nicer facilities, food, clothing etc. Kinoshita is on program improvement. The Government shouldn't be raising parent's children for them." How can you possibly make this statement about the motivation of these children who you do not know or have any experience with? How can you possibly know anything about their parents and their involvement? Just because a parent is a working parent and cannot volunteer does not mean they are not involved.
Capo Parent February 07, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Shelly OPA in Chino scored better than anyone (but OPA) thought they would. I would be surprised if OPA-OC didn't score as well or better. CTA fears real school choice, in particular, charter schools, because they dilute CTA's (and its affiliated unions, like CUEA) power, influence and money. That's why CTA basically wrote AB 1172 and is feverently backing it. CTA is ok with school choice by parents as long as it entails schools that CTA members can teach at and dominate which allows it control and influence. Yes Shelly, sometimes it really is about the unions, though you pretend otherwise. Also, stop pretending you're not against OPA, you are. How can one tell? Easy, count how many times you stated, in writing, you're not against OPA, but then turn around and slyly bash OPA. With friends like you, OPA needs no enimies.
shelly February 08, 2012 at 09:31 AM
Capo Parent, I am not against OPA. Please point out where I bashed them.

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