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TUSD may welcome new charter school next year

A new charter school geared towards struggling students may become a part of the Turlock Unified School District as soon as the 2014-2015 school year pending District approval.

Aspiranet is a nonprofit headquartered in the Bay Area that has operated the Turlock Excell and Readiness Center, a residential treatment program that provides at-risk boys educational and residential services, in Turlock for the past 27 years. The nonprofit aims to widen its scope in the Turlock community by founding its first charter school, Aspiranet Fusion Charter.

Geared toward students that are struggling with traditional education, Aspiranet aims to fill a niche need in the community by providing an educational facility that caters to students with behavioral issues with the objective of returning them to TUSD classrooms. The charter would also minimize havoc wreaked in the classroom by students that pose a disturbance affording teachers more control over their classroom and providing troubled students the focus and attention they need.

According to Aspiranet, the Fusion Charter would differ from other available alternative education sites in the area in that it would operate in conjunction with the District with the aim of returning students to TUSD classrooms thus restoring Average Daily Attendance for which the District is awarded funds for each student. The District currently loses ADA funds when students drop out of school or transfer to schools operated by the Stanislaus County Office of Education so Aspiranet Fusion Charter would essentially function as an intervention between the District and the County.

“Our goal is to teach good citizenship, how to sit in a classroom, to return the students to school and return the ADA,” said Chris Essary, Division Director of Residential and Schools for Aspiranet.

The charter would be funded as a nonpublic school and would assume liability also giving TUSD the option to be as involved as they choose. Aspiranet has the option to go through the state in order to operate their charter but instead desire to be a part of the community.

“Others have set out to make charter schools a business and that is not our intention,” said Vernon Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Aspiranet.  “Our commitment to education is embedded in the work that we do.”

If approved, the Aspiranet Fusion Charter would take place at the First Freewill Baptist Church on Geer Road where classrooms, parking, and outdoor facilities such as a basketball court are available. While the proposal was discussed at great length at the TUSD Board of Trustees meeting, the District is not near making a decision though they face a tight deadline. July 3 is the deadline for Aspiranet to submit their approved district charter submission package to the State Board of Education in order for school to begin on Sept. 8. According to Superintendent Sonny Da Marto, the Board will likely be meeting for a special board meeting in upcoming weeks before a decision will be made.