Report is open to interpretation
November 6, 2002
A great deal of emotion, speculation and judgment has been roused by recent articles about the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT) review of Prosser Creek Charter School (PCCS).
Some beneficial recommendations resulted from the report; however, an analysis of all of the facts, as they were presented to FCMAT and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (TTUSD) prior to the release of the final report, but which were excluded from the report, would yield different findings.
Had this information been included, the report would demonstrate that over $780,000 of potential funding loss cited by the FCMAT review is problematic. Prosser Creek will gladly make available copies of all documents supporting the facts stated below:
— The FCMAT review interprets charter school laws contrary to those on record with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and the California Department of Education (CDE) in order to quantify disallowed Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding for the Prosser Creek Charter School.
— Of the potential disallowance of funds cited in the report, approximately $780,000 is a result of these controversial and divergent interpretations of laws.
Charter schools throughout the state, (there are currently 436 in operation) including Prosser Creek, have followed the guidance from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the California Department of Education and other State agencies in implementing their credential requirements.
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Prosser Creek and the many other charter schools have not broken any laws by obeying guidance from these agencies which FCMAT is now questioning. Many of these charter schools are placed in peril as a result of the release of the controversial FCMAT report. The FCMAT report cites a potential disallowance to PCCS of $685,000 through their interpretation of these credentialing laws.
Approximately $95,000 additional potential disallowance cited in the report is the result of the FCMAT interpretation of another law which directly contradicts guidance from the California Department of Education (CDE).
The CDE interpretation of the law regarding students over the age of 19 is posted to its Web site. It upholds: ‘A charter school pupil may generate charter ADA if enrollment occurs after age 19…There is no maximum age for charter school attendance.’
There were several sound recommendations made in the FCMT review including greater oversight of, and communication with, the charter school by the sponsoring District.
These recommendations were made throughout the report, but most consistently as it pertained to financial dealings. Prosser Creek has always been, and will continue to be, receptive to feedback from appropriate district personnel as it pertains to operational and financial matters.
Prosser Creek Charter School came forward with its knowledge of a revenue projection error within days of its quantified discovery.
— The error was a miscalculation in the expected revenue of the school. It was an overestimation of monies that would be received by the charter school caused by including one source of revenue in the PCCS budget, twice, in the amount of $896,000.
— PCCS will re-submit attendance forms to the state reflecting a loss of ADA for students for which the charter school had legal intra-district county transfer agreements. It was determined that these agreements could not be used in the charter school as they are in traditional districts.
PCCS will also submit a revised report for Washoe County students who fell under the same contract the TTUSD shares with Washoe County.
— The total adjustment to ADA will be approximately $80,000.
Prosser Creek Charter School offers children in our community a viable and positive educational environment. Prosser Creek’s financial dealings have always been above-board.
Prosser Creek is willing to work with the district to implement reasonable and positive changes that allow the school to continue to serve all of its students in the learning environments successfully created over the last four years. This will take a significant commitment by everyone – the Charter School, the District, and our Tahoe Truckee community members – to communicate regularly, ask questions of one another and to seek the knowledge of many (rather than the opinions of one) before making decisions or judgments.
The district and the charter school must keep these discussions void of personal ambitions and infused with only the best intentions for our primary common interest: Children. On behalf of the students, parents, faculty and staff of Prosser Creek Charter School, I remain committed to this endeavor and to maintaining the educational choices that Prosser Creek offers.
PCCS is here to stay.
Jayna Gaskell is executive director of Prosser Creek Charter School
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