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California sees growth in charter schools

Waitlists, enrollment up at Aspire schools chartered by Lodi Unified School District

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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013 12:00 am

Despite a statewide increase in charter school enrollment, Aspire Public School’s Vincent Shalvey Academy in Lodi Unified School District remains steady with a waitlist of 700 students.

With the addition of 104 schools and 49,174 students this fall, California’s charter schools grew 10 percent to serve 519,000 students, according to the California Charter Schools Association.

The Los Angeles region had the largest growth, with 45 new charters opening.

Now, about 8.4 percent of the state’s 6.2 million K-12 students attend a charter school.

California has the most charter schools in the nation, with 1,130. Despite the substantial growth this year, the charter schools association said that 50,000 students statewide were on a waitlist for a charter school.

It is unclear whether the Vincent Shalvey campus will expand in the future. It currently serves about 390 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, according to Principal Karla Fachner.

Once students graduate from Vincent Shalvey in Morada, they typically transfer to Aspire’s Benjamin Holt Preparatory Academy in Stockton, which is also chartered through Lodi Unified.

While that campus has grown substantially over the last few years, according to Principal Jeff Palmquist, it too has a waitlist of about 1,100 students. Each spring, a lottery is held to fill any spots that may have become vacant due to students moving out of the area or changing schools.

Five years ago, the school’s enrollment was 540; currently there are 711 students, Palmquist said.

Aspire, the area’s only traditional charter school organization, opened its first school in 1999. Today, it operates 37 schools across California and in Memphis, Tenn.

“Over the next several years, I think we will continue to see significant additional momentum to what has already been a very robust growth picture for charter schools in California,” Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the association, said in a news release.

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