Representatives from the Lagunitas Waldorf-Inspired Program read an open letter to the Lagunitas School Board on Tuesday indicating their intention to submit a petition at April’s board meeting for independent charter school status. Once the petition is submitted, the board has 30 days to conduct a public hearing and 60 days to decide whether to grant approval.
Independent charter schools are alternative public schools that receive public funding but are not subject to the same regulations.
“The Lagunitas Waldorf-Inspired Program would like to thank the Lagunitas School District Trustees and Administration for the goodwill, support, and partnership that have been shown towards the LWIP since its inception eight years ago,” the letter began. “However, because of State budget realities, the Lagunitas School District Administration and Board have been forced to make tough decisions in terms of budget cuts across the district,” read another part. “Along with the other programs in the District, the LWIP has been heavily impacted by these cuts, which have impeded our ability to meet the needs of our students, and have resulted in a loss of families from our program.”
Mia Terziev Thelin, a representative from the group who was present at the meeting, said the decision to apply for charter status came after a long process of investigating potential ways for the school gain greater autonomy in budgetary and staff decisions after district cuts led to the firing of several teachers last spring.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone,” Terziev Thelin said. “Our parent body has been informed previously about the concept—there’s overwhelming support from a majority of the parent body for the idea as a solution to a lot of the challenges we face.”
She also said the school was sensitive to the move’s potential economic implications. “We don’t want to do anything that would financially hurt the district,” she said. “We were given an anonymous donation to hire a fiscal attorney to do a feasibility report, and it looked initially that there would not be a negative fiscal impact [on the district].”
Steve Rebscher, president of the Lagunitas school board, said it was far too early to speculate about the board’s decision. “It’s going to take every bit of that 60 days that we have from the time it’s submitted to the time we pass it to get information, to [get the community together] and really make a decision about it.”