Tim Smith, lead petitioner for Carden Virtual Academy, explains the school he wishes to bring to San Bernardino to the San Bernardino City Unified School District governing board. Photo by Chris Sloan
Crispin Zamudio, principal of E-Institute Charter High School in Glendale, Ariz., discusses with the San Bernardino City Unified School District the success his students have had on tests and in graduating. Zamudio’s employer has petitioned to bring a similar charter school to San Bernardino.
About 40 people came to the San Bernardino City Unified School District governing board meeting to support the petition for Carden Virtual Academy. Photo by Chris Sloan
(SAN BERNARDINO) The San Bernardino City Unified School District governing board is looking at a new charter school that has already greatly improved student test scores and lowered the dropout rate in other cities.
Tim Smith, president of the proposed Carden Virtual Academy, presented his petition to the board in a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
“We want to be a community resource and partner with the San Bernardino City Unified School District, and help your students achieve academic success,” Smith said.
If approved by the San Bernardino City Unified School District, Carden Virtual Academy will offer students in grades K-12 options in education, including on-site courses in day and evening hours, online courses and independent study. Teachers will work with families to create individualized learning plans that best meet their students’ needs.
“We will make learning exciting for students,” Smith said. “They will not only learn critical academic skills, but we also will help them develop character and confidence.”
Carden Virtual Academy already operates several charter schools in the Phoenix, Ariz. area. These are Carden Traditional Schools in Glendale and Surprise, and E-Institute Charter High Schools on multiple campuses in the Phoenix area.
The Arizona schools have an 85 percent graduation rate, and score in the 80th percentile and above on standardized tests for their state.
“San Bernardino is similar to the communities in Arizona where we have had success in serving,” Smith said. “We are familiar with the needs of students who are learning to speak English, students who are at risk of dropping out, and students who have special needs. We have been able to meet the needs of these students, and help them have academic success.”
About 40 supporters of Carden Virtual Academy attended this hearing, including Carden administrators and teachers who came from the Phoenix area to discuss with the board what they do at their schools, and the successes they’ve had.
“We are excited about the progress we have made in student achievement,” said Vicki Mc Farland, director of curriculum and instruction of Carden Traditional Schools. “We have surpassed all the schools in our area, as well as the Arizona statewide average.”
Crispin Zamudio, principal of E-Institute Charter High School in Glendale, shared similar statistics.
“We have a successful track record of helping students to pass Arizona’s high school graduation test and receive a high school diploma,” he said.
Carden’s existing schools rank high in state results, even though many of their diverse students have not previously had academic success.
Although the schools’ curriculum initially focused on college prep students when the first campus opened in 1996, Carden staff soon realized they wanted to do more to meet the needs of all students with whom they came in contact. So, they established the first E-Institute Charter High School in 2000, targeting “at-risk” students.
Now, Carden has re-aligned its program so that the Carden Traditional Schools teach K-8 offering more flexibility than a regular elementary school, and the E-Institute Charter High Schools teach grades 9-12, giving options to all students – college bound, at-risk, or simply not fitting into the comprehensive high school environment.
Carden Virtual Academy, if approved, will start out as one school, providing all of its K-12 students the same range of options and benefits as the campuses in Arizona. It will hire a local administrator and 30 credentialed local teachers.
Other supporters of Carden Virtual Academy are California education experts who believe the proposed school is an education option the San Bernardino City Unified School District needs to help its students succeed.
“The petitioners have demonstrated they have the knowledge and experience to sufficiently operate a charter school,” said retired Hemet Unified School District superintendent Dr. Stephen Teele. “With your approval, Carden Virtual Academy will be a vital part of the San Bernardino City Unified School District.”
While serving as Hemet’s superintendent, and in previous administrative positions, Dr. Teele said he has had opportunities to review numerous charter petitions, and once worked to revoke another school’s charter.
Teele now serves as a consultant, reviewing the petitions of proposed charter schools to determine if they are educationally sound, and believes Carden Virtual Academy’s petition proposes a school that San Bernardino City Unified School would be proud to have in its district.
San Bernardino resident Carl Dameron agrees. Dameron, who is providing public relations services to Carden Virtual Academy, reviewed its proposal and finds five reasons to support this school.
These are: 1) Carden Virtual Academy will be fiscally responsible, 2) Carden Virtual Academy will deliver academic success, 3) Carden Virtual Academy will deliver a culturally releva
nt curriculum with a diverse local faculty, 4) Carden will give students options to help them succeed and 5) Carden Virtual Academy will work in collaboration with the district.
“Carden Virtual Academy has a 14-year track record of delivering successful students in a fiscally responsible manner, and they have assembled a highly competent team to meet our students’ needs,” Dameron said. “I whole-heartedly recommend the San Bernardino City School District approve its petition.”
Carden Virtual Academy’s mission is to deliver a high quality education focused on building skills, character and confidence. The curriculum will be personalized for each student, offering a mix of onsite classes in day and evening hours, online classes and independent study. Onsite courses will include hands-on learning activities and high technology. The school’s curriculum will be based on California education standards, and employ California certified teachers.
For more information, call Tim Smith at (602) 439-5026.