Tuesday evening, the Ventura County Board of Education approved the BRIDGES Charter School petition. It is the first charter school focused on the whole-child in the Conejo Valley Unified School District. The vote was 4-1 in favor of the charter. The one dissenting vote came from board member, Marty Bates who
felt students would be pulling away from CVUSD which does a great job of educating students and there was no need for a charter,
said Hilda Salas, school psychologist and parent.
The rest voted in favor. Mary Louis Peterson saw BRIDGES uniquely different from the existing Open Classroom Magnet School from which they are separating. Dr. Mark Lisagor, a strong parent advocate, felt the petitioner’s effectively demonstrated parents taking action in providing a good education for their children. Dr. Ramon Flores also voted in favor but had concerns about sufficient services being in place for special education and ESL learners. Nevertheless, he felt confident that the school would address these issues responsibly. Dean Kunicki, a strong advocate of the charter movement, applauded BRIDGES for a well prepared petition. He hopes that increasing competition among schools will force the public system to look at educational reform.
The school, similar in mission to the Camarillo Academy of Progressive Education and the Ventura Charter School in Ventura County, has a progressive element. BRIDGES also shares similarities with the Open Magnet Charter School in Los Angeles. Both have their origins as magnet schools, and both later became charter schools within their own districts, mentioned Jon Baker, a parent and petitioner. According to Baker, essentially, the long history of the Los Angeles Open Magnet Charter School encouraged the BRIDGES petitioners to
pursue the charter school path in order to realize their vision for a whole-child, progressive learning community.
The CVUSD Open Classroom Magnet School will remain open under the new name Open Classroom Leadership Magent School at Conejo Elementary based on Steve Covey’s “The Leader in Me” program.
What’s next for BRIDGES? The first is accepting applications. The school’s goal is to provide a K-8 education. So far they have received over 110 applications for 180 spots for the K-7 grades. The deadline to apply for admission to the new school is March 1st.
And the second is raising funds. On Saturday, March 6th, BRIDGES will host a dinner and silent auction at Eric’s Restaurant, at 6:00pm at the Palm Garden Hotel in Newbury Park. The event is $45/person and payment is due February 21st to reserve a seat.
For more info:
For more information on enrollment, visit BRIDGESCharter.org
For information on the fundraiser, contact Kathy Jonokuchi at (818) 324-5759 or at [email protected]
Special thanks to Hilda Salas and Jon Baker for their assistance.
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