RICHMOND -- A Silicon Valley-based charter school nonprofit has submitted a petition to run a secondary school within the West Contra Costa school district.
Summit Public Schools, which will run six schools in San Jose, Redwood City, Daly City and Sunnyvale this fall, specializes in preparing "traditionally underserved," primarily minority students, to attend college, according to Diego Arambula, Summit's chief growth officer, in a presentation to the school board Wednesday evening.
One of the schools, Summit Prep in Redwood City, was named the 82nd best high school in the United States and the 11th best in California by U.S. News and World Report.
The schools have received financial backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and one of its governing board members is current Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer and former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, Arambula said.
In his presentation, Arambula cited what he said were California Department of Education statistics showing that 100 percent of Summit students meet University of California and California State University admissions requirements at graduation.
This compares with 39.4 percent at Richmond High School, 18.9 percent at Kennedy High School and 47.4 at El Cerrito High School, he said.
Although it has not picked a site, Summit plans to locate the school in Richmond or El Cerrito, Arambula said.
Summit wants to open the school in fall 2014 with 120 students in the seventh grade, expand to 220 students in the 2015-16 academic year and add additional students until reaching a capacity of 677 middle and high school students in 2020-21.
Arambula said all of Summit's charter petitions have been successful. Three were accepted by the local school district, two by county boards of education and one by the state board of education, he said.
"Our charters have been accepted six times based on the same model," he said.
Ben Steinberg, a parent of a third grader at Mira Vista Elementary School in Richmond, said he thinks the board should be more open to charters, particularly at the secondary level, where he said the district is having less success.
"When a (charter) school with a track record of success comes along, we should embrace it," Steinberg said. "You should have the same zeal about what is happening in our schools as you did in building the schools."
School board President Madeline Kronenberg questioned Arambula about how district schools could piggyback on the extensive in-service training Summit teachers receive.
Arambula said Summit has tried to reach out to the public school districts where it operates but has not yet made any cooperative arrangements.
Trustee Charles Ramsey also questioned Summit's qualifications for serving African-American students, citing the absence of black faces in some of the schools' promotional materials.
Trustees will weigh a staff analysis of the Summit petition at their Aug. 12 meeting.