Much of the concern over the loophole that allows a site-based charter school to locate outside of the geographic area of its authorizing district relates to oversight: How can a district provide adequate oversight if the school isn’t located in its own backyard?
This arrangement, though, doesn’t necessarily mean insufficient oversight. Take John Adams Academy in Roseville, which was founded in 2011 when the Loomis Union School District was led by former Superintendent Paul Johnson. (John Adams has since opened a Lincoln school authorized by Western Placer Unified School District and its El Dorado Hills branch by El Dorado County Office of Education.)
In February, the Loomis school board issued a notice of violation to JAA-Roseville for failing to meet student outcomes in English language arts and math, as determined by California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress test scores, and for allegedly misallocating $613,897 with no evidence to support these funds “were actually spent on the intended student populations, and not on other unrelated projects,” according to the report. The school has until Aug. 7 to remedy or refute the findings, or risk having its charter revoked.
Loomis Superintendent Gordon Medd says his district uses an annual checklist from the state’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team to ensure oversight. He says it was through the FCMAT process that the notice of violation to JAA-Roseville was issued.
John Adams Academy’s Director of Outreach Norman Gonzales said in a statement, “While we disagree with these allegations, we are already working collaboratively with the district and remain confident the notice will be fully resolved.” In terms of its spending, JAA-Roseville provided the district with “clarifying information demonstrating how the school tracks expenditures of these funds in accordance with the law,” and implemented the district’s recommendations regarding how to calculate and track grant fund expenditures.
The student-outcome piece is more complicated. According to Gonzales, the Roseville campus experienced significant enrollment growth during the years in question (for example, a 40 percent increase in 2015-16). “Many of the newly enrolled students had not thrived in their previous school settings, and were taking the CAASPP exam for the first time,” Gonzales says. “These students’ initial CAASPP scores were not as high as their classmates who had the benefit of attending JAA-Roseville for a number of years.” He says internal assessments show students’ scores and proficiency levels improve the longer they attend JAA.
It terms of JAA-Roseville being authorized in Loomis but located in Roseville, Gonzales points to an initial parent information night held at the Blue Goose Event Center in Loomis — which over 1,000 people attended, he says. The founders Dean and Linda Forman submitted a charter for a K-12 model to the Loomis district. But after receiving some 500 intent-to-enroll forms, they realized there weren’t any facilities that could accommodate their program, so they found a location in Roseville instead, he says.