By Peter Day / For the Leader Posted Jun 19, 2018 at 12:51 PM
LUCERNE VALLEY — A charter school that operates under the oversight of the Lucerne Valley Unified School District is making a difference in students’ lives, some of whom are future high school graduates that otherwise might get lost in the shuffle.
That is the sentiment of Ken Larson, principal of the Hesperia-based Alta Vista Innovation High Charter, who was one of two charter school officials to speak at the board’s monthly meeting on Thursday.
Prior to enrolling at Alta Vista, students had an average 1.4 grade point average. Afterward, their average GPA improved to 2.9. Alta Vista students are also more likely to attend school, become more engaged in class, and graduate from high school. The average student that comes to Alta Vista is 17 years old, has a sixth-grade reading level and a fifth-grade level in math.
“We’re bringing them up to grade level,” Larson said.
Students who come to Alta Vista often face a number of challenges, including an unstable home life, poverty, atypical learning styles, truancy and teen pregnancy. Some have been expelled or suspended from their previous schools and may have been placed in foster families, or even been homeless. To change students’ life stories, Learn4Life offers flexible schedules, provides one-on-one attention, designs personalized lessons and provides a safe environment. The school also offers an array of extra-curricular activities such as sports and clubs, small group instruction and college and career readiness assistance.
“We tell them, ‘You need to leave school with a purpose and a plan,’” Larson said. Alta Vista has a three-year accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and is aiming at receiving a full six-year accreditation, he added.
In response to the Alta Vista Charter School update, school board member Tom Courtney, who was first elected to office 23 years ago, said, “We believe in you. That is why we chartered you.”
Sky Mountain Charter School Chief Operation Officer Jodi Jones also gave an update at the meeting. Sky Mountain, a WASC-accredited TK-12 independent study school, operates schools in several California counties with the San Bernardino County-based program headquartered in Redlands. Last month Jones, who joined Sky Mountain Charter School six months ago, met with parents at a town hall-style meeting. During the event, Jones and other administrators invited parents to ask learn more about the school system, the state’s Local Control and Accountability Plan and other factors pertinent to their children’s education. Parents said their students would benefit from additional assistance in Math and English, she said.
Sky Mountain, which is managed by the Placerville-based Innovative Education Management, has recently seen an “uptick” in enrollment and now has 1,800 students, according to Jones.
LVUSD Superintendent Peter Livingston said he had a productive conversation with Jones prior to the school board meeting and likes what he heard.
“I feel very good about the direction Sky Mountain is going,” Livingston said. Both Sky Mountain and Learn4Life charter schools, along with Elite Academic Academy, receive
oversight by the Lucerne Valley Unified School District. Elite did not provide an update during the meeting.
Keri Gasper recognized
Keri Gasper, who founded and served as president of the Lucerne Valley Elementary School Booster Club, was recognized for her dedication to the LVUSD. She has served as organizer of Booster Club fundraisers and events, and the club has provided field trips for students.
Livingston also provided an update on the Local Control and Accountability Plan. School districts in California must identify needs, with shareholder input, in its LCAP. Livingston expects the district to submit its 2018-19 LCAP early, perhaps this week.
In the LCAP, the district states its plan to maintain many of the current programs while expanding the AVID program and FFA, adding music classes, an intervention teacher and counseling support. The district also plans to add a comprehensive Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) lab at the elementary school and additional administrative support at the middle/high school.
And planning on success is paying off.
According to Lexia data, Lucerne Valley Elementary has seen significant improvement since the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. The number of students below grade level has decreased by 29 percent. Meanwhile, 39 percent — compared to just 7 percent last year — are above grade level. Other improvements are seen in STAR reading and math data.
Peter Day currently is a social media adviser for the Lucerne Valley Unified School District.