CV Charter looks to expand for 2014-15 school year

By Jay Bedecarre on January 27, 2014

Improved academics, test scores, attracting students from public, private schools.

The parking lot at Centre Concord will be overflowing Tuesday evening and the action inside will be high stakes for many local families.

Clayton Valley Charter High School rented the facility in order to hold a lottery drawing to determine the priority of acceptance for about 1,000 students who have applied to enroll at the Concord school for the 2014-15 school year.

In order to accommodate as many applicants as possible Executive Director Dave Linzey and his Clayton Valley Charter staff and governing board have developed plans that would allow the school to increase its total enrollment from just under 2,000 currently to 2,300 for the new school year, which begins Aug. 13. Ironically, those plans to add 300 students potentially could displace almost an identical number of Clayton Valley Little League players who have used two ballfields on the Concord campus for exactly 40 years. (See story, page 10.)

‘Build it and they will come’

Space on the CVCHS campus off Academy Rd. housing the local youth baseball league’s Major and Minor B division ballparks seems the prime candidate for locating new classrooms. That land could be used to place 10 portable classrooms this summer making it possible for the increased high school student body needs. “We are pursuing options to expand our campus,” Linzey said in explaining that no final decisions have been reached.

He anticipates discussions with the Mt. Diablo School District, which owns the campus property and facilities, and Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer hopefully will conclude with a positive outcome during February.

Linzey ascribes to the adage “Build it and they will come.” The school’s governing board has been looking into solutions on how to accommodate additional students for more than a year. The primary off campus option for expanding CVCHS enrollment at Cal State East Bay across Ygnacio Valley Rd. was approved last March but did not work out and in December the board directed Linzey to see how expansion could be accomplished on the Alberta Way grounds.

According to Linzey and long-time staff at the school Clayton Valley had enrollment “as large as 2,500 about 15 years ago” but since then over a dozen portable buildings have been removed. The school had 1,850 students in 2011-12 (before the charter) and 2012-13, (first year of charter) and increased to just under 2,000 this year. There are a few campus classrooms being used for storage or other purposes which can be added to the inventory for the fall.

More demand

The school has implemented a number of changes in the year and half it has been a charter. Test score results announced in the fall placed CVCHS No. 1 in Academic Performance Index improvement among all California large comprehensive high schools, with the biggest scores growth in Contra Costa County for elementary, middle and secondary schools.

This ratcheted up demand for a place in the school. Linzey assures that every eighth grader (more than 450) within the Clayton Valley charter feeder school system will be admitted for 2014-15. Openings for 10th, 11th and 12th grades (before any expansion) will also go first to feeder area applicants.

School officials initially estimated 700 students would apply for next school year but as the Jan. 31 application deadline loomed they were gearing up for as many as 1,000. This forced a move off campus to Centre Concord for the lottery drawing in order to accommodate the large turnout expected. Every applicant will be placed in priority for acceptance based on the lottery drawing.

Mt. Diablo Unified must consent to any facility modifications at CVCHS. It is a two-edged sword as many students would likely be coming from MDUSD schools and thus cost the District the $35 per student average daily attendance payment which comes from the state.

Linzey explained that a number of transfer students from local parochial schools transferred to CVCHS before the start of spring semester. Administrator Pat Middendorf added that a local private school recently informed CVCHS that their school is getting more inquiries from eighth grade families for CVCHS information rather than the private school which was typically the first choice.

An increase of 300 students would necessitate the hiring of 10-15 teachers, one counselor and one administrator. There would be a need for additional parking, restrooms, maintenance and food service areas. Linzey adds that any installation of leased portables would be temporary (three years maximum) while a permanent solution is developed and constructed. He pointed to the modular science building added a year ago as the type of structure being discussed for a long-term solution.

CVCHS Governing Board president Megan Kommer says her board is unanimous in being “passionate about what we’re doing and would like to accommodate as many kids as possible.” She adds that a majority of the board wants to keep everyone on campus so that each student “can have the full Clayton Valley experience.”

Kommer recognizes that nothing is finalized and expansion plans could “all fall through.” She attended last year’s lottery drawing and said “it was heartbreaking to see students and families who were not drawn to get a place for this year.”

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