Foster City’s long-held dream of having its very own high school may be once again rekindled.
A Los Angeles-based charter school foundation has recently submitted an application to the San Mateo Union High School District to open a high school in the city. The application comes as another effort to open a high school in the bayside town appears to be extinguished. The move is the third charter school effort in as many years to arise in Foster City.
School district Superintendent David Miller confirmed that he received an application from Dialogue Foundation to open a Magnolia Science Academy. But he and other district officials said they are skeptical of any effort to bring a charter school into the region, saying the application would have to be stellar to even be considered since the district’s high schools are performing well academically.
Currently, Foster City high school students are bused to either San Mateo High School or Hillsdale High School. Foster City leaders have dreamed of a high school since the city was founded in the 1960s, when 15 acres were set aside for a high school. Since then, 11 of those 15 acres have been slated for a residential and commercial development, but the remaining four are still zoned for education.
A charter school is a publicly funded school that is usually operated by a private foundation or business but often funded largely by the state. Many offer educational programs that differ from what is offered elsewhere in the district.
The most recent charter school effort was led by the Foster City High School Foundation and the Bay Area charter school company Envision Schools.
The two groups struck out when they approached the City Council for support. The council not only refused to support the project, but also imposed deadline of next month for the foundation to find funding elsewhere, or the land could be used for something else.
Foundation leader Phyllis Moore said it’s been “very difficult” to come up with the several million dollars needed for the school and doesn’t anticipate that her group will meet the deadline.
Miller said Dialogue’s application did not specify whether the school would be located on the four acres zoned for education. He said the application will likely have to be exceptionally attractive to be considered and that the school would have to offer students a curriculum they cannot currently find in the district.
Dialogue Foundation officials did not return calls or e-mails for comment.
The new contender
San Mateo Union High School District recently received an application from the Dialogue Foundation to open a new charter school in Foster City. Some facts about the applicant:
» The Los Angeles-based nonprofit was established in 1997.
» Dialogue operates two grade schools — named the Magnolia Science academies — in the San Fernando Valley, as well as the Momentum Middle School in San Diego.
» Tuition is offered free.
» Dialogue’s schools emphasize science, math and technology.
» The nonprofit’s schools boast state-of-the-art science and computer laboratories, computer-programming classes, free special tutoring, and science, math and technology fairs and clubs.
» Magnolia Science Academy received a score of 767 on the Academic Performance Index released last week.
» Momentum Middle School received an API score of 810.