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Better Charter Advocates

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With the Town Hall meeting coming up on Tuesday May 24, 2014, now seems to be an appropriate time to air some of the concerns AEA parents have expressed regarding the recent AEA announcement and discuss potential solutions to take in to the Town Hall meeting.

AEA has recently announced plans to place K-1st at Agua Dulce and 2nd-6th grade at the newly acquired Pinecrest facility. After discussing the announcement with several parents, it seems that the primary concern is rooted in the fact that, current AEA families have held strong throughout the year volunteering, fundraising, advocating for AEA within the community, and contributing financially to help support the establishment of the new school, all the while being told by AEA administration officials that if AEA did not have a facility in SCV by Spring Break 2014, that AEA would certainly have a facility for K-6 in SCV by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. From the beginning, AEA administrators promised the founding families a facility in SCV to accommodate all AEA SCV Elementary students. Furthermore, AEA Parents were told at the last Town Hall meeting that the Pinecrest facility would definitely be large enough to house all AEA K-6 students. AEA’s recent announcement revealing plans to bus grades K-1st out of SCV to Agua Dulce in the 2014-15 school year while placing grades 2-6 at Pinecrest, falls short of fulfilling AEA’s promise.

On the heels of AEA’s most recent announcement to divide the AEA SCV Elementary student body between Agua Dulce and SCV, some of the positive sentiments shared by parents toward AEA have taken a different turn. AEA’s recent announcement goes against what the founding parents were promised and could be viewed as reminiscent of the type of unionized public school district tactics that founding parents boldly stepped away from in support of the Albert Einstein Academy. According to several AEA parents, while AEA does provide an outstanding educational experience for their children, in light of the recent announcement, AEA officials do not appear to be committed to delivering on their promise of providing a location in SCV for all of the AEA SCV Elementary School students by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. It is the opinion of many AEA parents that it is time for the AEA organization to make good on their promise and provide suitable facilities to accommodate all of the Albert Einstein Academy SCV Elementary students in Santa Clarita Valley by the start of the 2014-15 school year.

The intention here is not to criticize AEA. The intention is to hold the AEA administration accountable to fulfilling the promise they made to the founding parents at the outset of the school year, while also presenting potential solutions to help AEA in fulfilling that promise. One potential solution that AEA administration may or may not have considered is the reintroduction of the Rye Canyon building as a means to accommodate a portion of the AEA SCV Elementary student body. Those who attended the City Hall meeting may recall that the City Board indicated their willingness to work toward the approval of the Rye Canyon building if AEA was willing to significantly reduce the number of students scheduled to occupy the proposed location. This suggestion was met with strong and fast opposition by at least one of AEA’s foremost representatives at the meeting. At that time, reducing the number of proposed students may have seemed unreasonable, but now that AEA has acquired Pinecrest and has shown willingness to divide the student body between Pinecrest and Agua Dulce, what is preventing AEA officials from re-approaching the City of Santa Clarita with a new plan to occupy the Rye Canyon building with fewer students? If there are between 75-100 students in each grade, AEA SCV Elementary could reasonably allocate up to 3 grades to the Rye Canyon location, reducing the amount of proposed students by at least 50%, and reopen the possibility for approval of the Rye Canyon location by the City Board. This is one example of a viable avenue that AEA could be pursuing right now to provide the additional facilities needed in SCV to accommodate the AEA SCV Elementary families, yet it is AEA's failure to act on such plans that have caused several parents at AEA to suspect that AEA’s goal is not to accommodate AEA SCV Elementary families as promised, but to maximize AEA revenues by acquiring as many new students as possible, regardless of what district they come from.

I encourage AEA staff and the AEA parent body to facilitate this discussion by sharing and posting this article and voicing thoughts and opinions so that both parties can work together to develop a plan toward keeping the entire AEA SCV Elementary student body in SCV for the 2014-15 school year.

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