BARSTOW If all goes well for Barstow Charter Academy on Tuesday, the Barstow Unified School District will be granting BCA a charter petition and hosting the district's first ever charter school. The charter is recommended for approval despite repeated concerns from BUSD officials regarding potential problems with the school's proposed plans.

The BUSD Board of Trustees will be voting whether to grant BCA a charter for three years, per the district's recommendation. However, the board can decide to grant a term between one to five years, according to Superintendent Susan Levine.

The charter school has stated plans to open this school year on Sept. 9, Levine said. BUSD schools begin Sept. 8, a little more than two weeks away.

The board's vote which caused confusion on Aug. 11 did not approve the charter or set the terms of the agreement, according to Tuesday's board agenda. At that meeting, three trustees voted against denying the petition and one trustee voted in favor of denial.

After the meeting, Levine and the district sought legal counsel on advice for how to handle the situation.

Following the recommendation of the district's lawyers, Levine is recommending the board to approve the charter for three years.

"That's enough time to get it up and running," said Levine. It will give BCA "a fair chance to get going," she said.

Jennifer Ruiz, BCA's lead petitioner, did not return multiple requests for comment as of press time Monday.

Levine said she did not know whether BCA had found a facility to use for classrooms yet.

The charter school has been looking at renting a variety of facilities, including Barstow Mall, Barstow Intermediate School St. Joseph's Catholic School and some vacant utility buildings on Main Street, Ruiz had stated in previous reports.

According to Ken Eaves, vocational education director at Barstow Community College, BCA is looking to partner with the college to teach college-level courses at the high-school charter so students can get high school and college credit.

BCC has talked to BCA petitioners about professors teaching electrical classes at BCA to train students to enter the workforce with skills for growing renewable energy industries like solar and wind, Eaves said. He also noted that the college was in preliminary discussion stages with BCA and that BCC partners with several local schools in Barstow, Silver Valley and other High Desert areas.

"It gives us a chance to get involved," said Eaves.

The board meeting is Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the district office board room at 551 South Avenue H.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com

What the charter school plans to offer:
Classes for grades nine through 12.
School size of about 100 to 125 at-risk students.
Student-to-teacher ratio between 20:1 to 25:1.
Night classes for students who work during the day.
YouthBuild, a program where students work on construction projects to get job training and class credits.
Partnership with Barstow Community College where students enroll in college courses while in high school.