PLEASANT HILL -- Clayton Valley High charter supporters will tell county trustees on Wednesday why they want to be the first public high school in Contra Costa County to convert to a charter school.

"We're optimistic," said Pat Middendorf, one of the teachers leading the effort. "I think in the end, we're going to prove that this is the best thing that can ever happen to this district."

The Mt. Diablo school board denied the charter last month on a 4-1 vote, saying the school didn't meet financial requirements. Charter advocates are appealing to the County Board of Education, which has the authority to overrule the school board and approve the charter, in the hopes of converting the school in the fall. No vote is expected Wednesday.

Middendorf said she and other charter supporters will rebut the district's financial analysis during the meeting at Pleasant Hill Elementary School.

"The district has a 35 percent overhead," she said. "That's really high. There are so many ways charters cut costs."

District officials will explain why the board denied the charter and the public will be able to comment on the plan. County staff will not make a recommendation until Jan. 11, when the board expects to approve or deny the appeal.

Mt. Diablo trustees didn't ask the petitioners any questions before denying their petition, but County Board President Pamela Mirabella said she expects to inquire about the financial plan.

"We're all suffering with (funding) deferrals," she said.

"I have a real concern in that area that I think needs to be addressed."

Although the charter has garnered overwhelming support from the Clayton and Concord communities it aims to serve, several parents, teachers and administrators from other schools oppose it because the district estimates it would lose $1.8 million to $4.2 million a year in revenues, which could mean cuts to other campuses. However, the board cannot legally deny the charter based on the financial impact to the district.

"I just don't know the real total of the effect on Mt. Diablo," Mirabella said. "And, we can't use that as a criteria."

Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence is lobbying state leaders to change the law that requires unified districts to pay about $921 more per student to high school charter conversions than they receive from the state.

Next month, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla plans to introduce legislation that would allow districts to consider the financial impact in their decisions to approve or deny charters, said Luis Quinonez, Bonilla's chief of staff.

Charter advocates have vowed to appeal to the State Board of Education if the county denies the petition.

IF YOU GO
  • The Contra Costa County Board of Education will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pleasant Hill Elementary School, 2097 Oak Park Boulevard in Pleasant Hill. More information is available by calling 925-942-3380 or by visiting www.cccoe.k12.ca.us. Click on "School Board."
  • For additional details, read the On Assignment blog at www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment.