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Ocean Charter School Fails to Get Letter of Support from Venice Neighbors

The Venice Neighborhood Council passes a motion suggesting LAUSD 'focus on' a middle school for the space at Walgrove Avenue Elementary and declines to support Ocean Charter's request at this time.

Ocean Charter School's request for a letter of support in its bid to build a new school at was deemed premature at a Venice Neighborhood Council meeting Tuesday night.

On Sept. 15, the Los Angeles Unified School District will release a Request For Proposal to , and OCS representatives were hoping that the Venice Neighborhood Council would state its preference to have that school continue at that location.

"We kind of knew that maybe it was premature," said Birgitte Hellsten, an OCS parent who wrote the motion. But she argued that putting any other school in the location "would be a strange precendent to set," since OCS has been colocating at Walgrove for the past four and a half years.

"We are a neighborhood school," Hellsten said. "Most of our students live in Venice or Mar Vista."

There weren't two board members willing to make and second a motion on the VNC board agenda that read, in part, "should it be mandated that a school be on that site, we support the continuation of Ocean Charter School’s co-occupation." The motion was not considered.

A related prior motion recommended that the LAUSD "consider first and foremost" middle school students.

That motion was amended to say "focus on" middle schoolers and to add, "it being understood that the Venice Neighborhood Council is not excluding an elementary or high school component."

The amended motion passed unanimously, with one abstention.

"I'm glad that the first motion didn't pass in its original form," Hellsten said.

OCS serves about 450 kindergarten through 6th grade students at two campuses, one at Walgrove and another in Del Rey.

Hellsten said OCS has gathered about 200 signatures from the neighborhood in support of the school's continued colocation at the site.

"We feel we do have community support," Hellsten said.

Regardless of the Venice Neighborhood Council's recommendations, it is unclear what kind of restrictions the LAUSD would be able to put on the RFP.

"It has to be fair by legal standards," LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer told the packed room at Oakwood Rec Center Tuesday night. "Folks are lawyered up. We're going to dot every 'I' and cross every 'T.'"

Interested charter schools will have 45 days to submit proposals after the RFP goes out on Sept. 15.

"There will be a lot of opportunity for input," Zimmer said.

Read more about Ocean Charter's struggles here.

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steve August 18, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Its all about the kids right! You want to displace some 200 kids that are already settled in a school, so a hand full of parents that live close by can send there kids to a new middle school because they do not like the existing choice close by. (if you get what you want, you should be made to commit your kids to that school for the complete duration until high school, regardless of the uncertain level of education that may be provided at this new school) Yes, its all about the kids. We need 3-4 schools in this area, why are you all not getting together as one (for the Kids) and fighting for several schools? Is it really about the kids? Some how, I don't believe this like I don't believe the same statement when it comes out the mouth of an LAUSD Teacher with the fat pensions and benefits giving a low grade of education when we pay such high dollars for it.
Walgrove Dad August 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM
Really Steve? If you are a supporter of Ocean Charter it might be wise not to insult Walgrove Elementary teachers? Or is this how Ocean Charter feels about there Co-location partners?
Cindy Morimoto August 19, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Do you realize that there is also the option to have NO NEW SCHOOL built on the Walgrove campus? This is just an intent to lease. It is not a done deal. The charter schools are pushing the school board for this. Why should our neighborhood bear the weight of two schools on a campus made for one? Our streets cannot take the traffic!

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