Friday, January 15, 2010

San Bernardino Considers New Charter School

Tim Smith, lead petitioner for Carden Virtual Academy, explains the school he wishes to bring to San Bernardino to the San Bernardino City Unified School District governing board. Photo by Chris Sloan

Crispin Zamudio, principal of E-Institute Charter High School in Glendale, Ariz., discusses with the San Bernardino City Unified School District the success his students have had on tests and in graduating. Zamudio’s employer has petitioned to bring a similar charter school to San Bernardino.

San Bernardino resident Carl Dameron shares with the San Bernardino City Unified School District governing board why he believes Carden Virtual Academy would help local students to have academic success. Photo by  Chris Sloan

About 40 people came to the San Bernardino City Unified School District governing board meeting to support the petition for Carden Virtual Academy. Photo by Chris Sloan

(SAN BERNARDINO) The San Bernardino City Unified School District governing board is looking at a new charter school that has already greatly improved student test scores and lowered the dropout rate in other cities.

Tim Smith, president of the proposed Carden Virtual Academy, presented his petition to the board in a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

“We want to be a community resource and partner with the San Bernardino City Unified School District, and help your students achieve academic success,” Smith said.

If approved by the San Bernardino City Unified School District, Carden Virtual Academy will offer students in grades K-12 options in education, including on-site courses in day and evening hours, online courses and independent study.  Teachers will work with families to create individualized learning plans that best meet their students’ needs.

“We will make learning exciting for students,” Smith said. “They will not only learn critical academic skills, but we also will help them develop character and confidence.”

Carden Virtual Academy already operates several charter schools in the Phoenix, Ariz. area. These are Carden Traditional Schools in Glendale and Surprise, and E-Institute Charter High Schools on multiple campuses in the Phoenix area.

The Arizona schools have an 85 percent graduation rate, and score in the 80th percentile and above on standardized tests for their state.

“San Bernardino is similar to the communities in Arizona where we have had success in serving,” Smith said. “We are familiar with the needs of students who are learning to speak English, students who are at risk of dropping out, and students who have special needs. We have been able to meet the needs of these students, and help them have academic success.”

About 40 supporters of Carden Virtual Academy attended this hearing, including Carden administrators and teachers who came from the Phoenix area to discuss with the board what they do at their schools, and the successes they’ve had.

“We are excited about the progress we have made in student achievement,” said Vicki Mc Farland, director of curriculum and instruction of Carden Traditional Schools. “We have surpassed all the schools in our area, as well as the Arizona statewide average.”

Crispin Zamudio, principal of E-Institute Charter High School in Glendale, shared similar statistics.

“We have a successful track record of helping students to pass Arizona’s high school graduation test and receive a high school diploma,” he said.

Carden’s existing schools rank high in state results, even though many of their diverse students have not previously had academic success.

Although the schools’ curriculum initially focused on college prep students when the first campus opened in 1996, Carden staff soon realized they wanted to do more to meet the needs of all students with whom they came in contact. So, they established the first E-Institute Charter High School in 2000, targeting “at-risk” students.

Now, Carden has re-aligned its program so that the Carden Traditional Schools teach K-8 offering more flexibility than a regular elementary school, and the E-Institute Charter High Schools teach grades 9-12, giving options to all students – college bound, at-risk, or simply not fitting into the comprehensive high school environment.

Carden Virtual Academy, if approved, will start out as one school, providing all of its K-12 students the same range of options and benefits as the campuses in Arizona. It will hire a local administrator and 30 credentialed local teachers.

Other supporters of Carden Virtual Academy are California education experts who believe the proposed school is an education option the San Bernardino City Unified School District needs to help its students succeed.

“The petitioners have demonstrated they have the knowledge and experience to sufficiently operate a charter school,” said retired Hemet Unified School District superintendent Dr. Stephen Teele. “With your approval, Carden Virtual Academy will be a vital part of the San Bernardino City Unified School District.”

While serving as Hemet’s superintendent, and in previous administrative positions, Dr. Teele said he has had opportunities to review numerous charter petitions, and once worked to revoke another school’s charter.

Teele now serves as a consultant, reviewing the petitions of proposed charter schools to determine if they are educationally sound, and believes Carden Virtual Academy’s petition proposes a school that San Bernardino City Unified School would be proud to have in its district.

San Bernardino resident Carl Dameron agrees. Dameron, who is providing public relations services to Carden Virtual Academy, reviewed its proposal and finds five reasons to support this school.

These are: 1) Carden Virtual Academy will be fiscally responsible, 2) Carden Virtual Academy will deliver academic success, 3) Carden Virtual Academy will deliver a culturally relevant curriculum with a diverse local faculty, 4) Carden will give students options to help them succeed and 5) Carden Virtual Academy will work in collaboration with the district.

“Carden Virtual Academy has a 14-year track record of delivering successful students in a fiscally responsible manner, and they have assembled a highly competent team to meet our students’ needs,” Dameron said. “I whole-heartedly recommend the San Bernardino City School District approve its petition.”

Carden Virtual Academy’s mission is to deliver a high quality education focused on building skills, character and confidence. The curriculum will be personalized for each student, offering a mix of onsite classes in day and evening hours, online classes and independent study. Onsite courses will include hands-on learning activities and high technology. The school’s curriculum will be based on California education standards, and employ California certified teachers.

For more information, call Tim Smith at (602) 439-5026.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Street Flags Celebrate Bicentennial

Street flags with the Bicentennial Celebration logo will soon adorn lampposts throughout San Bernardino. The Bicentennial Celebration Committee seeks sponsors for these flags, to learn more call Erin Brinker at (951) 323-9337.

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) The City of San Bernardino’s streets will soon be sporting banners and street flags with the city’s new Bicentennial Celebration logo.

 “This is a time of pride for the city,” said Erin Brinker, head of the public relations committee for the Bicentennial Celebration committee. We are proud of our citizens, our organizations and our businesses.  We are proud of our history, and we look forward to the future.”

The Bicentennial Celebration committee invites businesses, organizations and individuals to be a part of the celebration by sponsoring the street flags, which will adorn lampposts throughout the city much the way holiday-themed flags do each December. In fact, these Bicentennial flags will remain in place until December.

For $300, sponsors can have their name on the street flag, below the logo. Since the committee will be installing new flags throughout the year, there’s no deadline to sign up. But it will start by adorning the most highly visible areas of San Bernardino, so quick responses are encouraged.

To sponsor a street flag, call Brinker at (951) 323-9337.

San Bernardino’s celebrated beginning took place on May 20, 1810 when Father Francisco Dumetz established a mission. Now that 200 years have passed, and 2010 has arrived, it’s time for a months-long celebration.

The logo adorning these street flags depicts the Bicentennial Celebration’s motto “San Bernardino 1810-2010: A Rich History. A Bright Future.” Throughout 2010, events are planned to remember the past, and usher in the city’s third century.

This logo is illustrated with some of San Bernardino’s best resources over the centuries, including arrowheads, orange groves, mountains, transportation ranging from a horse-drawn wagon to an airplane and a high-speed train, landmark buildings California Theater and Vanir Tower, and people.

Rabbi Hillel Cohn is the chairman of the Bicentennial Celebration Committee, and Erin Brinker is the chair of its Public Relations & Marketing and Independence Day Extravaganza committees. Other Bicentennial Celebration Committee members are Art Guerrero (chair of Neighborhood Beautification committee) Jim Smith (chair of the Community Engagement committee), Cheryl Brown (chair of the Youth Council, Intergovernmental and Arts committees), Beverly Bird (chair of the Legend of the Arrowhead committee), Steven Shaw (chair of the History committee), David Smith (chair of the Finance committee), Jane Sneddon (chair of the Parade committee) and Martha Pinkney (chair of the Gala committee.)

These members were appointed by the mayor and members of the San Bernardino Common Council. Additional community volunteers who have taken on leadership of other committees are: Trudy Freidel (Festival of Faiths), Dr. William Coleman (Leadership Cabinet), Peggi Hazlett (Mayor’s Run), Dr. Charles “Skip” Herbert (Coloring Books for Schools) and The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire (Design).

For additional details, contact Erin Brinker at (951) 323-9337.