[Posted November 6, 2017] “[D]espite its academic, community partnership, and facility revitalization achievements, University High has experienced decreasing enrollment: as an increasing number of community families elect to send their high-school age students to nearby affiliated charter and independent charter high schools. To better compete with these schools, and offer parents and students a premier, comprehensive K-12 community-based affiliated charter public school option, University High must evolve into a community charter high school affiliated with the public school system of the Los Angeles Unified School District.”
That statement, on page 9 of the draft Charter document, sets out the key driver to change Uni from a School-Based Management program to an affiliated charter school within the Los Angeles Unified School District. The statistics show the unsustainable path that Uni’s enrollment is on:
- 2012-13: 1,897
- 2013-14: 1,804
- 2014-15: 1,763
- 2015-16: 1,671
Four-year change: -11.9%
By contrast, Palisades Charter is up 3.1% over the same period to 2,970 students and New West, another independent charter, has increased its enrollment from 573 to 823 (+43.6%) over the last four years.
Three of Uni’s key feeder schools – Emerson Middle School, Paul Revere Middle School and Westwood Elementary School – are affiliated charter schools, another key driver for the change.
“[A]ttendance data shows that a large number of students who attend District-affiliated charter schools at the elementary school level (such as Westwood Charter School) or at the middle school level (such as [Emerson] Middle School) leave these schools, or do not advance to the next school in the chain, because the charter programs to which they are accustomed do not continue past the middle school level.”
The proposed Charter documents outline a carefully-designed “Academic Pathways’ program which starts with a “First Year Conservatory” course of study for ninth-graders and then continues students in one of three divisions:
- Communications, Entrepreneurship and Law
- Creative Arts
- Health Care and Fitness
These programs are carefully aligned with the curriculum already in place at Emerson and Revere.
The major change in the way the school is operated is that a University High Council will be able to set the “policies, procedures and regulations for the governance” of the school, including decisions concerning the “funds and finances of University High for the benefit of its students.” The 20-member Council, who would generally serve two-year terms, would be made up of:
- 1: The Uni Principal;
- 10: Teachers, who must be members of the United Teachers Los Angeles union, with nine elected by Faculty Committee members, plus the UTLA Chapter Chair;
- 4: Parents, who would be elected by the parents of Uni students;
- 1: Community representative, to be appointed by the Uni Hi Education Foundation (UHEF);
- 2: Students, including the Student Body President and one other member to be elected by the student body;
- 1: Non-teacher employee of the school, appointed by the Principal and UTLA Chapter Chair;
- 1: At-Large, appointed by the District or the Principal.
Students living in Uni’s traditional “boundaries” within the LAUSD would be able to attend the school automatically, but students from anywhere could apply to go to Uni and if too many apply, a lottery would be used to select students up to the school’s capacity.
The process is just beginning and Uni held a community meeting on November 8 to introduce the draft proposal and answer questions. The school has a Web page devoted to this topic here.