As charter schools fall by the wayside in the Temecula area, one continues to move forward.
“We’re the oldest charter school here; we began in 1994,” said Dr. Jo Ann Burnett, principal at Temecula Valley Charter School. “We’ve been very successful.”
Earlier this year, the Temecula Valley Unified School District rejected an application fromto open a charter school, and the
Burnett believes Temecula Valley Charter School’s success is largely based on its mission, which is developing education that looks at the “whole child.” The K-8 school that serves more than 500 students also has a strong visual and performing arts program, as well as intense focus on the sciences.
“We still continue to find ways to fund programs that are the hallmark of our school,” Burnett said.
Burnett countered the charter is in the black for the 2012-13 school year and will continue to be in the future. The Temecula Valley Charter School has been impacted by state budget cuts like every other school across California, but Burnett said the school’s governing board anticipated the reductions and budgeted accordingly.
“We’re always looking for ways to cut. Everyone has to do it,” she said.
Parent participation is one way the school makes ends meet. Charter schools cannot charge tuition under state law, but parents can volunteer to fill in gaps.
“It’s critical for us,” Burnett said, noting that parents are required to volunteer 12 hours per month at the school, and some pitch in full time. “Teachers and families here work very well together.”
The school has 20 full-time teachers, no administrative staff to speak of, and no custodians.
“Do I wish I had a janitor? Yes. But I don’t. “We all sacrifice and wear many hats,” Burnett said.
At the end of the day, Burnett, who has been with the school for 10 years, said the charter's formula is working and the results prove it. According to the state’s 2011 Base Academic Performance Index (API) Report, Temecula Valley Charter School boasted an API of 898, 40 points higher than the district average of 858. When comparing it to similar schools across the state, Temecula Valley Charter School ranked ninth.
“We know we’re meeting the needs of the kids,” Burnett said. “They want to come to school here.”