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California: Charter School Threatens to Drive District into Bankruptcy

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A school district in Santa Barbara County may go bankrupt because of the charter chain absorbing revenues from its schools.

“One Santa Barbara County school district says keeping a local charter school open could cause them to go bankrupt.

“California’s Department of Education recently decided the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District has to help fund Olive Grove Charter School, a public school with six different locations.

“Olive Grove Charter Schools have been in Santa Barbara County since 2000, originally chartered by the Los Olivos School District. In 2014, Los Olivos decided it no longer wanted to oversee the schools.

“The only district willing to speak with us was New Cuyama so we did get authorized with the state board and New Cuyama paid us in-lieu funds at that point,” explained Laura Mudge, Executive Director of Olive Grover Charter School.

“Then the laws changed, and they were back at the drawing board.

“So the California Department of Education was hoping everyone would be able to get to an agreement, especially since Olive Grove had been authorized and in the county since 2000. It didn’t go that way, so we went back to the districts, back to the county and back to the state and then got authorized,” Mudge said.

“Now, the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District is stuck footing the bill – one that’s so high, they say it could lead to bankruptcy.

“We received notification from the Department of Education in December that we’re going to owe $696,000 to help fund Olive Grove Charter. That was just based off the beginning of the year attendance. If you listen to projections coming from the executive director of Olive Grove, that number will be closer to $1-1.2 million come the end of this school year,” said Scott Corey, superintendent of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District.”

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