Summit Prep seeks charter from Sequoia school district

Summit Preparatory High School, facing the expiration of its charter from a county no longer legally allowed to sponsor it, is rallying to win approval for a new charter from the Sequoia High School District.

Summit was originally chartered three years ago through the Summerville Union High School District in Tuolumne County, though the school has always been located in Redwood City. State law, however, has changed since then to require charters to be issued by the district within which the school operates, making it impossible to renew that charter.

It will cost the Sequoia District more than $2.4 million to adopt Summit’s charter, but the district cannot refuse its adoption for that reason, according to Superintendent Patrick Gemma.

“The law says you may not deny a charter just because it has a negative financial impact on the district,” Gemma said. Charters are evaluated on the basis of their academic standing and their financial viability. Summit’s academics are just fine, Gemma said, but the district is studying the school’s finances closely.

Summit Principal Diane Tavenner is cautiously optimistic. “[The school] has already proved it meets all the criteria,” she said. “But it’s somewhat of a political process, so you can never be sure.”

Sequoia is already legally required to provide facilities for Summit. In recent months, the Sequoia district abandoned plans to make space for Summit at its Redwood High School campus and move Redwood to the Sequoia High School campus after the plan was found to be too expensive. Instead, Summit will take up residence in portables at Sequoia this fall when its enrollment grows from 275 to 400.

Parents of Summit students are expected to turn out at a public hearing on the charter application on Wednesday. The district must make its decision by June 4.

“I’m thrilled to have my son come home each day happy and excited about learning,” Carla Schiefly said.

The Sequoia High School District board meets Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at 480 James Ave., Redwood City.

bwinegarner@examiner.comBay Area NewseducationLocal

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