Appeal from “Samoa Beach Academy” presented to Humboldt County Education Office; Voice support from community members during Education Council meeting | Lost Coast Outpost
It’s been over a year since a group of five entrepreneurs, traders and educators submitted their plans for a charter high school focused on career and technical education, called Samoa Beach Academy, in the Northern Humboldt Union High School District.
Hoping to get the green light to open their new school on the peninsula, SBA leaders came up with a program that would produce high school graduates ready for employment and into one of three CTE streams: building and construction, health sciences and medical technology, or business and finance. A local educational opportunity like theirs, the SBA team argued, is not only desired in the community, but necessary.
They hoped to open a store within the year. If things had turned out like the SBA, dozens of freshmen and sophomores might have been tinkering around on the peninsula right now.
Sadly, NoHum did not approve the charter – not because the robust CTE was not wanted or needed by Humboldt, but because the district found the SBA’s proposal academically ill-founded and financially unsustainable.
That’s why Samoa Beach Academy has submitted an appeal to the Humboldt County Education Office, hoping to gain approval. It is clear that the SBA team is not happy with the way their proposal was handled by NoHum; in her appeal documents to the HCOE, former lead petitioner Catherine Scott wrote that the district “gave no respect to the expertise and capacity of the founding team of the SBA”. Scott said NoHum’s assessment of the SBA was cynical and based on assumptions rather than facts. The staff’s findings – which included concerns about the SBA’s ability to recruit qualified CTE teachers, doubts over the charter’s ability to adequately support students with disabilities, and concerns about the SBA’s budget in general – were each of the unfounded and inadmissible reasons for refusing a charter school proposal in California. Scott wrote, adding complaints about the school board’s lack of discussion before the vote. (Scott is no longer involved with the school but still believes in his potential, she told the Outpost in an email.)
On December 14, the Humboldt County Board of Education hosted a listening session for the SBA, which now hopes to open in 2023 and eventually serve 300 students. The listening session, which included a presentation from the SBA team, is in part intended to gauge public interest in the idea.
During the 15-minute SBA presentation, Patti Campbell, Chair of the SBA Board of Trustees, presented plans for the school’s campus, a 17-acre site fitted with a two-story building, a courtyard, a sports hall and a football and soccer field. The school, which will be built and owned by Danco, is fully funded and ready to be built once the permit is granted, Danco owner Dan Johnson said in public comments. “There is no financial gain here for any of us,” Johnson said.
David Lonn (who replaced Scott as lead petitioner), spoke about the SBA’s readiness to serve students with disabilities and expressed confidence in the retention of SBA teachers, two concerns raised by NoHum in its assessment . The school is ready to serve students with mild to moderate to severe needs, Lonn said, and the school will budget for them at a rate similar to other local charter schools, starting at $ 7,300 per student. in special education the first year. When it comes to teacher retention, people will want to work at the SBA for its unique curriculum and positive work environment, Lonn said. In its assessment, NoHum predicted that the SBA would fail to find teachers due to its uncompetitive pay, and qualified CTE teachers with professional experience would likely experience a significant pay cut to teach at the school.
The public comments were filled in by nearly 20 tradespeople and parents who support the SBA. Students who aren’t necessarily interested in mainstream education would benefit from a CTE-focused curriculum, some said. Others believe Humboldt needs more tradespeople, especially given the upcoming large-scale projects in the county. “We can’t build it fast enough,” said a construction worker who called.
Bill White, owner of Northcoast Lighting & Electric, said trades are an often overlooked but profitable path. “We need help in the construction industry, and I fully support this program. ”
The SBA approval timeline still has a way to go. HCOE staff will review the proposal and develop recommendations for the board, which plans to vote on whether or not to approve the charter in February. The law encourages approval of charter schools, but the HCOE could deny the SBA if staff determine that the school does not meet certain criteria, has a weak educational program, is clearly unlikely to succeed, or is unlikely to succeed. to benefit the community.
If the SBA is denied again, the charter can make a second appeal to the State Board of Education.