What is a Charter School?
A charter school is a public school that operates outside of the traditional school district setting under a unique set of state regulations outlined in the Charter Schools Act of 1992 ( Senate Bill 1448). This act made California the second state in the nation to create charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools. The purpose of this legislation was to "provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure." Since then, a number of California laws have been passed to further define charter schools and identify specific accountability measures to ensure that pupils receive a high quality education regardless of whether or not they attend a public school or a charter school.
Charter Schools Operating IN vista Unified School District
Vista Unified is committed to working in a collaborative partnership with charter schools to ensure that students and parents have choices among a growing set of instructional program options in the district.
This webpage will serve as the hub for providing parents, students, and charter school petitioners a like specific information about the current charter schools operating within the Vista Unified School District, the process for submitting petitions for opening a charter school, the oversight and monitoring process for existing charter schools, and the renewal process for charter petitions. Vista Unified's highest priority is to ensure that all students have access to a high quality learning environment and are able to make consistent growth toward obtaining the requisite skills, knowledge and understanding to be college and career ready upon graduating from high school. Vista Unified not only sets this priority for district schools, but requires high quality learning environments of each of the charter schools.
Vista Unified currently serves as the chartering agency for four charter schools. Each charter school offers a unique instructional program focusing on a specific student population. Below you will find a brief summary of each charter school operating within Vista Unified.
Bella Mente Montessori Academy offers a Montessori education for students grades TK-8.
Guajome Schools is a public charter school of choice with approximately 1,500 students in Grades K-12. Guajome Schools offers a variety of different programs including the K-5 Guajome Park Primary Academy (GPPA), Guajome Park Academy (GPA) which includes grades 6-8 Middle School and grades 9-12 High School and Guajome Learning Centers (GLC), an alternative independent study program for grades K-12.
School for Integrated Academics and Technologies (SIATech®) is a WASC-accredited public charter high school that operates in partnership with the Workforce Investment Act and the federal Job Corps programs. SIATech is a dropout recovery high school which helps low-income, previously out-of-school youth get back on-track to graduation.
Trade Tech focuses on preparation for professions in the construction and engineering industry, including engineering design, architecture and green building technologies.
Vista Unified As the Chartering Agency
The Vista Unified School District serves as the Chartering Agency for any charter school operating under a charter authorized by the Vista Unified School District. The primary purpose of the Chartering Agency is to review potential charter school petitions and either grant or deny the charter based on a specific set of criteria. To this end, Vista Unified must follow strict accountability procedures established by Assembly Bill 1137, and later codified into Education Codes 47604.32 and 47604.33. The legal requirements of the school district serving as Chartering Agency are outlined in School Board Policy 0420.4. The specific processes Vista Unified follows to fulfill its obligation as Chartering Agency are outlined in the Administrative Regulation 0420.4.
Vista Unified is a member of the National Association of Charter School Administrators (NACSA). As a member, Vista Unified is aligned to the Principles and Standards NACSA has identified to ensure quality authorizing and oversight. These principles and standards will lead to high quality learning environments that prepare all students for success in college and career.
Core Principles of Charter Authorizing
- Maintain high standards for schools
- Uphold school autonomy
- Protect student and public interest
Standards for Quality Charter School Authorizing
- Agency Commitment and Capacity
- Application Process and Decision Making
- Performance Contracting
- Ongoing Oversight and Evaluation
- Revocation and Renewal Decisions