San Diego. Home to the Padres, eight African elephants, and the Englishman I met on the chairlift yesterday.
Also, Urban Corps of San Diego County Charter School. From their site: “From the early years, the Urban Corps has been dedicated to providing a second chance for youth to go back to school and earn their diploma through a combination of rigorous academic program and essential career-ready skills.”
The Urban Corps collaborated with the Vista School District in 1993 to create their first school – The Guajome Park Academy. In 2003, Urban Corps joined forces with John Muir Charter School.
“Finally,” explains the last paragraph of the site’s “Our History” page, “in 2011, Urban Corps partnered with the Mono County Office of Education to establish the organization’s first independently held charter school – Urban Corps of San Diego County Charter School.”
“There is an Ed Code, 47605 G, I think, that allows the county office of education in non-contiguous counties to authorize charter schools that are Conservation Corps charter schools or YouthBuild charter schools,” said Stacey Adler, Mono County Office of Education (MCOE) Superintendent of Schools.
Every charter school in California needs an authorizer. “That’s either a district or a county office that provides oversight for the school,” said Adler. “It’s kind of like a sponsor, if you will.”
In 2011, then-Inyo County Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer knew Urban Corps was seeking authorization from a county office. Over in Inyo, he had already authorized several charter schools in L.A. county. “He knew I was from San Diego,” Adler explained. “And so he approached [MCOE] to become the authorizer.”
MCOE administrators filled out some paperwork. Urban Corps agreed. 11 years later, the county continues to oversee Urban Corps of San Diego County Charter School.
MCOE is not involved in daily operations and does not fund the school. MCOE provides back end services.
“We do their payroll, and their checks, and we do their budget, and we provide Human Resource Services,” said Adler. “So, when they’re hiring employees – all that kind of stuff – we help them with that.”
Adler also works with the Dean of Education. “I meet him once a month – maybe more, depending on what’s going on,” she said. “If they need assistance, we provide assistance with their LCAP – their local control accountability plan.”
The California Department of Education website describes the LCAP as “a three-year plan that describes the goals, actions, services, and expenditures to support positive student outcomes that address state and local priorities.”
“The plans that have to come through the state – we provide assistance as they need it on those types of things,” Adler explained. Occasionally, she travels to San Diego for in-person board meetings and to provide on-site assistance.
In exchange for these administrative services, MCOE charges a 1% oversight fee based on the charter school’s revenue.
Urban Corps of San Diego County Charter School’s 2020 revenue was $3,715,909. In 2019, that number was $3,657,576.
MCOE also charges the charter school a fee for the back-end services they provide.
Another perk: Urban Corps students count toward Mono County’s average daily attendance. Funding for Mono County schools is based on the total, average daily attendance. Those additional 150 to 200 Urban Corps students bring in more funding for the county.
Special Ed funding for the county is also based on attendance. That extra funding earned by Urban Corps attendance stays within Mammoth Unified School District and Eastern Sierra Unified School District.
“Mammoth Unified and Eastern Sierra benefit a great deal from that additional average daily attendance,” said Adler.
By partnering with MCOE, Urban Corps gets more personalized attention than the San Diego County Office of Education could provide. Urban Corps is incentivized to seek authorization from a smaller county.
“San Diego County Office of Education is a huge office,” said Adler. “They authorize several charter schools. They have tons of districts. San Diego Unified is like the second biggest district in the state. It’s a small school, and we’ve been with them now for 11 years. We really know how they work. They know how we work. It’s a really good relationship, and that’s hard to come by.”
When asked if MCOE was losing money by overseeing the charter school, Adler replied, “No, MCOE does not (nor have we ever) lose money by overseeing the charter school.”
Adler also said she would work on providing The Sheet with requested information regarding MCOE’s cost of authorizing the charter school and how much money – from increased funding, the 1% oversight fee, and fees for other back end services – MCOE makes from its relationship with the school.