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The Lompoc Unified School District board of education voted to extend Manzanita Public Charter School’s district charter for another five years Tuesday, during a meeting in which the board also adopted a resolution that calls on the state to increase school funding.

Both moves were approved with 5-0 votes from the board, which also voted unanimously to accept the 2019-20 school year calendar — which includes an additional weeklong break — and to allow the Lompoc High School baseball program to implement a booster club.

Unlike past charter requests that were denied by the board, the Manzanita decision came after very little discussion. District staff had recommended that the charter be renewed through July 1, 2023, “since all requirements have been met,” according to a staff report. The current charter was set to expire this summer.

“A key renewal requirement includes that Manzanita students achieve the academic performance of the public schools that the Charter School pupils would otherwise have been required to attend,” read a portion of the staff’s recommendation.

Suzanne Nicastro, Manzanita’s principal/executive director, was present at Tuesday’s meeting and gave a brief presentation prior to the board’s vote. In the presentation, she touched on some of the alternate education paths offered to the kindergarten through sixth-grade students at Manzanita, a group that she said included 432 children, and stressed that Manzanita’s goals align with LUSD’s.

“It’s the same vision, just a different way of getting there,” she told the board.

The district staff report included a list of four conditions under which LUSD could legally revoke Manzanita’s charter. And even then, the district would need to document at least one of the conditions and then give the school a chance to correct it.

Those conditions for revocation include if the charter school violates provisions of the law, if the school commits a material violation of the charter, if the school fails to meet or pursue the student outcomes identified in the charter or if the school fails to meet generally accepted accounting principles or engages in fiscal mismanagement.

“A thorough review was conducted by (LUSD) staff and it was determined that none of these conditions exist,” read the staff recommendation.

In a separate move, the board adopted a resolution calling for “full and fair funding of California’s public schools.”

The resolution specifically calls for the state Legislature to raise school funding to the national average by 2020 and to the average of the top 10 states by 2025.

The resolution notes that California currently ranks 45th nationally in the percentage of taxable income spent on education and 41st in per-student funding. It further notes that state funding for K-12 schools has only recently returned to levels predating the Great Recession of 2007, but much of that has been eroded by the rising costs of health care, pensions, transportation and utilities.

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According to the figures in the resolution, California’s per-student funding trails the national average by $1,961 and trails the average of the top 10 states by nearly $7,000.

“In order to prepare our students for participation in a democratic society and an increasingly competitive, technology-driven global economy, California must fund schools at a level sufficient to support student success,” read a portion of the resolution.

The resolution also points out that despite California’s “vast wealth,” the state has “consistently underfunded public education while widening its scope, adding new requirements and raising standards without providing appropriate resources to prepare all students for college, career and civic life. ...”

In other moves, the board approved the Lompoc High School Baseball Booster Club, which will be used to benefit the school’s baseball program, as well as the 2019-20 district calendar.

One of the main changes in store for the 2019-20 school year is that students and staff will have a weeklong break from Feb. 17 to 21. The first two days of the break are the Presidents Day and Abraham Lincoln's birthday holidays, while the next three are referred to as “February Break.” That week off joins the extended breaks from Nov. 25 to 29 for Thanksgiving, from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3 for winter break and April 13 to 17 for spring break.

The calendar includes 180 instructional days, the minimum required by the state.

The next meeting of the LUSD board of education is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 27 at the Education Center Board Room, 1301 North A St.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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