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State of Carpenter Charter: New Programs, Less Money, 13 RIFs, New Tests

Principal Joe Martinez offers a look at the future for Carpenter and the highlights of the past year.

The year’s big fundraiser theme is the so tried to play off the theme for his second “State of the Charter” report at the school Tuesday night. He served popcorn to make it like a movie night, showed some footage of students in their special writing programs and offered quotes from Calvin Coolidge, who was the U.S. president in 1924 when the Studio City elementary school was built.

About 50 parents showed up in this school of 900 on the night that he billed as an important night to find out about what is going on in your children’s school.

Some of the questions concerned the (RIF) letters that 12 of the teachers (and he) received from the Los Angeles Unified School District, which could mean that they will no longer have a position at the end of the school year. (Principals get them regularly but are rarely let go.) Although Carpenter Community Charter School has some autonomy being an , it is still connected to many of the dictates of LAUSD.

That means a dozen of the school's 44 teachers with the least amount of seniority could be let go in order to allow for other teachers who are displaced in the district. The school has the autonomy in deciding who get into the school to see if the new teacher fits in with the school’s goals.

“We do not know when we will hear what will happen (from the district),” Martinez said about the RIF notices, but he predicted it may be by the end of May. “And as we know, anything can change.” 

What probably won’t change is that the school will have $66,000 less in their budget than the $283,485 the school received this year from the district.

“We will have to take some of that from our reserves,” Martinez said.

The principal was aided by and one of the original authors of the school’s charter, .

“We have an unbelievable parent groups and outstanding kids,” Martinez said.  He explained the school’s mandate to be innovate and have vision-driven plans that are all detailed in the charter which is on the site (http://www.carpentercharter.org/about-us/our-charter.html). In fact, the 22 Valley schools applying for charter status this year are looking at Carpenter’s as a model. 

The student population for the public school has gone from 893 to 909 this year, and there’s a capacity of 930 at the school, which goes from Kindergarten to Fifth grades.

The school was able to keep their librarian thanks to help from the parent groups raising money and volunteers. Martinez also pointed to great examples of teachers that he was able to hire who match the school’s plans. He spoke of a new dance teacher and an assistant principal who helps with special ed children.

Carpenter is able to keep class sizes down when compared to LAUSD standards. Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes that are usually 24 students per teacher at LAUSD are 18:1 and 23:1 at Carpenter.

In the Fourth and Fifth grades where the district requires 39 students per teacher, their Fourth grades have 32:1 and Fifth grades 29:1.

Martinez has goals for improvement. He wants to improve school attendance. Last year, only 54 percent of the students had missed less than a week of school. They are trying to reach the district level of 66 percent.

He wants to engage more of the parents, too, with a goal of 35 percent. Only 22 percent of the parents filled out the School Experience Survey last year.

The principal also said he wants to reduce the amount of days lost to suspensions by 20 percent. Last year, Carpenter lost 17 days while the district average was 12 days. This year, they have only lost five for the whole year.

“Unless things go really crazy in the next few months, we should make that goal,” Martinez laughed.

The parents were treated to film footage of students in Kindergarten and Third grade learning how to write essays and how they are studying the new Singapore math.

Teachers are volunteering to learn new teaching techniques, like the Singapore math, and the parent fundraising organizations are willing to finance some of the trips.

The school is preparing for LAUSD eliminating Youth Services after school. “They said they are going to eliminate it last year, but they didn’t, however we are already figuring out plans with the YMCA in case it does happen,” Martinez said.

Tonkins pointed out how teachers benefitted from the which helped teachers raise about $29,000 to pay for 69 of the 77 projects that they wanted to fund.

And, in two years, all public schools will have nationwide standard tests rather than state by state.

The principal said confidently, “I’m pretty sure our students will rank well when it comes to that.

Norbert Weinberg April 26, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Huntington Learning Center wishes the staff at Carpenter success in moving their stduents forward.
Michele Dahl May 07, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Did they discuss the transitional kindergarten program? Will it still run in the fall?

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