Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/26/2010 06:17:45 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – Teachers, parents and principals will have a bigger role in running new district charter schools than an executive board comprised of community leaders.

And that’s not sitting well with members of the executive board, who describe the move by district officials as a “lost opportunity.”

“I am keenly disappointed,” said Mayor Pat Morris. “This was a chance for a true partnership to fight the economic state of the neighborhoods around the schools by bringing the greatest assets to the table.”

Instead, the school board this week decided to set up six boards – or co-op groups – to do the bulk of the day-to-day governing at the schools.

Superintendent Art Delgado said the move was practical and not meant to leave anyone out.

“Each school will have a unique emphasis, so it made more sense to have the individual co-ops,” he said.

Setting up charter schools was among the options mandated by the state to turn around schools identified as being among the lowest performing in the state.

Eleven San Bernardino schools landed on the list. Six will become charters. Five others will see new principals and implement a system for rewarding teachers who are successful in improving student performance.

The school board has had a tight deadline to make the changes because applications for School Improvement Grants must be submitted by Tuesday.

In recent weeks, district officials hinted they supported the community partnership, including the mayor and representatives from Cal State San Bernardino, San Bernardino Valley College and the county. That changed at Tuesday’s meeting.

Under the new plan, teachers and others involved with those sites would be on that governing body and be responsible for establishing bylaws and policies that suppport the charter school plan, budget and curriculum.

The newly designated charter schools include Pacific High School, Shandin Hills Middle School and Hunt, Davidson, Rio Vista and Wilson elementary schools.

“Basically each co-op at each school develops a plan that best meets the needs of the students. It’s more of a day-to-day, hands on situation,” school board member Elsa Valdez said.

Morris and the others would be part of the Promise Neighborhood Partnership, which acts in more of a non-binding, advisory capacity.

Cal State San Bernardino President Al Karnig, who was expected to be part of the original charter governing board, said he hopes the partnership panel will be taken seriously.

“The real thing that makes your heart hurt here is the kids,” he said.

Whatever the case, the school board and superintendent will ultimately oversee all of the charter governing boards.

School board president Danny Tillman, said he decided to go with the new proposal for governing the charter schools because it was teachers preferred.

“The teachers were very enthusiastic and, because of that, I decided to give it a shot,” he said.

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