Future of charter school shaky 

Although Foster City has longed for its own high school for years, city officials now doubt if a charter high school is feasible and will be able to survive.

The recent failure of High Tech High Bayshore in Redwood City has the City Council looking for a sounder financial model and a contingency plan for the site should a proposed school gobelly-up.

On Monday night, the council gave the Foster City High School Foundation four months to present a revised business plan for a charter high school proposed for four of the 15 acres that sit next to the government center at 610 Foster City Blvd. That plan must include information on financing sources and contingency plans.

"We had not asked for that information but some recent events changed that," City Manager Jim Hardy said. "What happened in Redwood City highlighted the fact that charter schools have their own issues to deal with."

Although Bayshore’s failure has shaken confidence in High Tech High, Foundation President Phyllis Moore said she is sure a charter school will work out for Foster City, as long as they can get the new business plan completed in time to apply for vital Proposition 1D funds by May.

"We feel that we have such a good plan, we don’t see it failing. We truly believe that we will be successful and make a difference in the community," Moore said.

The foundation is also looking for a charter operator to manage the school, as High Tech High has asked not to be involved in that aspect and the city has expressed similar sentiments.

Moore said she has met with other local charter operators, but would not identify the parties directly. According to the Community Development department staff report presented at the meeting, Envision Schools in San Francisco has met with the foundation, as has Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City.

While Summit Preparatory — known for its educational and business successes — has shared information with the foundation, Summit founder Chris Buja said that school is not interested at this point in managing a Foster City school.

"We have not looked to expand further into operating schools in other jurisdictions," Buja said.

If the new business plan is turned in by July2, it could be up for review by the City Council by Aug. 6.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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