Sacramento's two Aspire charter schools to stay open with San Juan Unified's blessing

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2B

The Aspire Alexander Twilight College Preparatory Academy and Aspire Alexander Twilight Secondary Academy will remain open under a charter approved by San Juan Unified last week.

The school board unanimously approved a three-year contract for the two tuition-free public schools. Aspire Public Schools had asked for a five-year charter.

Aspire Public Schools were forced to go to local districts for charter approval after an Alameda Superior Court judge found that six of their state-approved charters were improperly awarded without the chance for local district oversight.

The Alexander Twilight College Preparatory Academy serves kindergarten through fifth-graders, while the Aspire Alexander Twilight Secondary Academy serves sixth- through 12th-grade students, according to district documents.

The schools are both in the former Loretto High School facility at 2360 El Camino Ave. The charter has a 25-year lease on the property.

"They met all the requirements without any problems," Trent Allen, spokesman for San Juan Unified, said Monday.

He said Aspire schools have a strong academic record locally and at their other sites statewide.

A charter review team from the district evaluated the application and the schools' finances, curriculum and facilities, among other things, and determined they were in compliance with district policy and state law, according to district documents.

The Aspire schools are independent charter schools so San Juan's oversight is limited to annual financial review and periodic renewals of the charter.

"We are pleased with the decision from San Juan Unified," said James Willcox, chief executive officer of Aspire Public Schools, in a prepared statement. "I am delighted that we can tell our families that the schools will continue without interruption as we navigate the legal process."

Four of the six schools affected by the court order have received local approval. Los Angeles Unified will hear the charter petition for the last two schools in early 2013, according to a news release from Aspire.

Aspire officials have said they will join the State Board of Education's appeal of the court decision.

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Read more articles by Diana Lambert

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