NBEF and their efforts to start a charter are a reaction to changes at Rancho and the closing of Hill Middle School.  The effort is not based on a sincere desire to close the achievement gap nor to provide a meaningful alternative for all NUSD students.  Novato should expect NBEF to attempt to place supporters on the NUSD Board in the November elections.  Click on the title below, "NBEF Timeline," or on the graphic to download the PowerPoint file of the timeline for a clearer view.

NBEF Timeline

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 9.23.35 AM


Dear Friends and Supporters, here is a recap and update on the North Bay Educational Foundation's activities following the NUSD Board vote to deny the petition 7-0.

-NBEF has indicated they intend to move forward and submit another petition in 2013 for the opening of a school in 2014.

-The Charter review legal cost to NUSD was $50,000.  Staff time and expenses were not calculated though we estimate the 9 member district review team spent considerable time in review.  This was time that was not spent on issues for all of our children.

-NBEF has been attending and presenting their proposal at Elementary and Middle School PTA and ELAC meetings in NUSD as part of the “outreach” plan and student recruitment effort.  They have made questionable claims about NBEF impact and intention including “attracting private school students to NBEF.”

-Concerned parents have been presenting the opposing argument to some PTA and ELAC groups.

-NBEF has held a few small fundraising events and a general meeting for “Accelerated English Learning”.  Not one person attended the Spanish language session.  Given the lack of any meaningful outreach to the Latino parent community by NBEF, this is not a surprise.

-We believe that NBEF efforts are in pursuit of vague ideals and a political ideology rather than an attempt to serve students with unmet needs.  We share a common concern over the effects this school will have on school demographics and economic isolation.  NBEF wants to control their enrollment process which has proven to filter in only the most capable and committed families.

-Novato should expect NBEF to run candidates for the NUSD School Board in November to push for approval.  NBEF founder, Mary Jane Lonson has been thought to be running for a position.

-Save Our Novato Schools is not against Charter Schools, innovation, differentiated instruction nor do we “oppose choice.”  We simply believe that the costs associated must be weighed against the proposed benefits.  We believe educational and programmatic choices can be added to our existing schools without the prohibitive costs NBEF brings.

- With the pending school parcel tax expiration, bond and budget issues bearing down on NUSD, we believe NBEF should halt pursuing the opening of this school.  Novato needs unity, not division.  We encourage everyone to share your opinion with NBEF and ask that they stop forcing the goal of a separate school at the expense of our community.

Here is a brief email template suggestion to send to the NBEF leaders:

Dear NBEF, I support school choice, charter schools, and the closing of the achievement gap.  I do not support an effort that will jeopardize the budget and stability of NUSD and the school(s) I have chosen to attend.  NUSD has increased API scores for all sub groups for each of the last 5 years and ranks in the top 20% of CA schools.  NUSD cannot afford another school site with the current budget and demographic projections.  Please halt the effort to create a separate school that has garnered very little interest or support from the subgroups the Charter Law was designed to support.

NBEF Board- [email protected]

**Please cc [email protected]

If you would like to include the individual NBEF leaders in the email too……

Mary Jane Lonson  [email protected]

Fr Luke Palumbis [email protected]

Cindy Hunter [email protected]

As a reminder:

-Save Our Novato Schools submitted a petition to NUSD with 1,100 signatures opposing the NBEF proposal.  Slightly over 200 parents signed the NBEF petition as “meaningfully interested” in attending the charter school.  A handful of parents signed both petitions.

If you would like to add to the list of concerns or feel issues have been overlooked, please bring them to us.  These issues include, but are not limited to, Facilities cost, Teacher and Classified Staff layoffs, Socio-economic isolation, and NBEF qualification to run a school.

Thank You for your support and as always, feel free to forward this email.

In an editorial on Monday December 3rd the Marin Independent Journal (IJ) editorial staff expressed several concerns about the NBEF charter proposal.  Although recognizing that the Board cannot make decisions based on financial concerns, the IJ stated the financial impact of this proposed school of initially 544 students would cause economic hardships on the district that would be “hard to ignore”.
...continue reading

1 Comment

November 8, 2012

Hello, my name is Candelaria García, and I have two children in Lynwood and one in San Jose. Why do we have to open a new school in Novato? Why do we have to take away money from our schools? Why risk the schools in our community? Why didn't  anybody take us into consideration and knock on our doors to inform us about this proposition? Why is there no information in Spanish for our families who need it? I am very concerned that they want to open a new school which potentially will affect the schools of my children. They not only will take away funds from those schools, but they will put at risk many students and threaten their opportunities. I am in total disagreement, since instead of supporting and improving our existing schools, they are taking away the few things we have. If the people who want to create their own school don't want to get mixed with our community, then they should pay and use their money to open their own private school. Administrators of the District, please don't allow them to discriminate against us, and affect our children's education. Education must be equal for EVERYBODY. We don't want bullying among our children, so then, we don't have to allow parents to bully us.


Thanks Candelaria for taking action! We hope your word inspire others to do the same.

NBEF, in a recent Facebook post, has finally recognized that there will be financial and other impacts if their Charter school proposal is approved. We believe this is a conversation the entire NUSD community should have been having all along and we are glad to see NBEF finally engaging in a more complete discussion of the proposal.   NBEF is still glossing over much of the potential impact with their "claims" though, as listed below.

CLAIM #1 This charter school will not effect the district budget

The history of charter schools in California tells us otherwise.  There are stories after stories of charter school negatively effecting the finances of the district.  Smaller districts, like Novato, feel the effect much more strongly than larger school districts.  Opening a charter school has never been a cost neutral proposition and nothing we've seen in the NBEF budget leads us to believe this will be any different.

The NBEF is budgeting $170 per student to give back to the district to cover administrative costs.  The district currently is spending close to $400 per student to cover administrative costs.  The district and its remaining students are left make up the shortfall.

The NBEF is budgeting $320 per student to reimburse the district for facilities.  The district cost to provide facilities for all of its 7500 students is north of $800 per student last year.  Furthermore the district deferred over 1.5 million dollars in maintenance last year so the true cost approaches $1000 per student for facilities.  Again the district is left to make up the shortfall.

CLAIM #2 An elementary school will not close because of this charter

This logic just doesn't make financial sense. If you remove 500 students from the district, there just won't be the money to keep all our 8 elementary schools open.  We know the NBEF would happily fill whatever school the district decides to close but do you want to play Russian roulette with your schools future?  We think we are better off improving the great schools we have rather than waste our time shuffling students around.

CLAIM #3 Any NUSD teachers laid off will happily go to work at this charter school

The NBEF has not made a guarantee of offering employment to laid off teachers.  Even if they did, do you really want to lose those teachers at your school?  Why should we have to lose even one great teacher at our neighborhood school to allow this charter to happen?  The NBEF is budgeting an average salary for their teachers that is close to 20% less than what NUSD pays.  Why should our great teachers be forced to take a pay cut?

1 Comment

4,775,300: The amount of money that 900 students leaving the NUSD will remove from the school district’s budget.

5300: The amount of state funds per student that the NUSD is given by the State

544: The number of children the charter school wants to have enrolled in their school on day one.

70: Of the charter signers with children in the district, 70% are from Rancho Elementary.

50: The number of NUSD elementary and middle school teachers with low seniority who will lose their jobs if a charter school of 900 is approved by the School Board

10: The number of these teachers at Pleasant Valley School who will lose their jobs if the charter school is approved

5: Less than 5% of district parents signed this charter petition, yet it impacts everyone

2: The number of schools the NUSD will need to close if the charter hits their fifth year enrollment targets of 900 students.

1: We have one day of public hearings.  November 8th at 6 PM.  Please attend and make your voices heard.


Some Of The Biggest Losers If The Charter Is Approved: Our Terrific Novato Teachers

Our School District currently receives $5300 in funding from the State for each child enrolled in our schools. The loss of 900 students from our District within 5 years for this new proposed Charter school would result in substantial cuts of our terrific Teaching staff. This follows a year in which almost every elementary and middle school showed growth in API scores.
...continue reading