Monday, November 14, 2005

Vallejo Receives Two Big Charter Grants

Vallejo Receives Two Big Charter Grants
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff report

To help other schools upgrade their curricula, Vallejo's Mare Island Technology Academy won a $250,000 grant through a federal charter school program this week.

The state Board of Education gave out grants totaling $22,999,687 to charter schools throughout the state. The money came through the federal Public Charter Schools Grant Program.

The state gave 65 grants to fund new charter schools and four grants to existing charter schools to share innovative educational methods with others.

Hiddenbrooke Community School received a $405,000 start-up grant. This is a proposed charter school which has not yet been approved.

Though stemming from Hiddenbrooke parents efforts to establish a neighborhood school, the charter school would accommodate Vallejo children from all parts of the city. The committee working on the new school has not yet found a location, but intends to work with the school district on a suitable spot.

The $405,000 grant for the Hiddenbrooke Community School will pay for all costs associated with getting the new school off the grant.

Vallejo State Administrator Richard Damelio is reviewing the Hiddenbrooke charter school application, and could either approve it in the next 60 to 90 days.

The Hiddenbrooke school would serve children in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, and later expand to include middle school grades.

If approved, the school would become Vallejo's second charter school.

The MIT Academy opened in 1999. In April, the MIT high school was selected as a California Distinguished School.

"This allows MIT to provide a formalized way for charter schools to share an innovative solution to other schools," said Gary Larson, of the California Charter Schools Association.

Part of the mission of charter schools is to assist other schools with new approaches in education, he said.

MIT Director Louise Santiago said the school will hire curriculum coaches to work with six schools - four in Vacaville, one in Santa Rosa, and one in Oakland.

About 60 percent of the grant will go for this effort while MIT will be able to keep the rest to spend on its own curriculum needs, she said.

The work with the six schools will center around developing those schools' curricula to directly align with California state standards.

The MIT will not work with schools in the Vallejo City Unified School District since the district has already embarked on efforts to align curriculum with state standards, Santiago said.

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