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Charter school appeal Wednesday
480 students already signed up for Great Valley Academy
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Great Valley Academy’s application for a charter school in Manteca was unanimously denied by the Manteca Unified School Board of Trustees in December.

On Wednesday, the San Joaquin County of Education school board will hear the academy’s appeal of that decision at their regular meeting. This first step in the appeal process will be in the form of a public hearing, which is similar to what took place in Manteca. As they did before the Manteca Unified board of trustees, Great Valley representatives will present their case before the county school officials. However, there will be a slight difference this time, said Dr. Eldon Rosenow, the longtime Modesto optometrist who founded the Great Valley Academy in Modesto nearly four years ago.

“We’re going to present the reasons why we think we should be approved for a charter (school) there (in Manteca). This time, the county board is going to allow us more time (than was allowed by Manteca Unified) to explain our program to them. We’re probably spend about half an hour,” Rosenow said.

In Manteca, their presentation lasted only about 20 minutes, he said.

Great Valley is also going to have Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon coming up to bat for them.

“I’m going to do part of the presentation, then Mr. Tom Changnon will be speaking for Great Valley Academy,” Rosenow said.

He said they did not recruit the Stanislaus County School superintendent for this favor.

“He volunteered. He loves this program,” Rosenow said.

“Mr. Changnon is a sharp thinker. I think he’s looking for ways to improve education. I like him,” Rosenow added.

He also firmly believes in the unique curriculum that Great Valley Academy has to offer. “It is an excellent program. It should be allowed to expand. We’re really innovative, and that’s what the state and federal government want,” he said.

It was the Stanislaus County Schools which eventually approved the Modesto Great Valley Academy’s charter after being denied twice by a Modesto school district.

Enrollment in Manteca going at full speed
While they are still at limbo whether their application for a school charter to expand in Manteca will be approved, Great Valley school officials are going full speed ahead in their enrollment process and other preparations to open their campus in the fall. Already, a first “parent information meeting” was held Thursday last week. During that meeting, 54 students signed up, Rosenow  proudly announced.

That number gives a total of 480 students already signed up for the campus in Manteca.

“That’s 480 kids signed up for a school that doesn’t exist yet,” he said.

Great Valley is currently in negotiations with The Place of Refuge Church, formerly the First Assembly of God on Button Avenue in Manteca, for the use of its Manteca Christian School facility. Pastor Mike Dillman has already announced that the school will shut down at the end of this school year due to dwindling enrollment. Great Valley Academy will simply rent the space; the church will not have anything to do with the school curriculum and how the school will be run.

About a hundred students from Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy and Lodi already attend the Great Valley Academy in Modesto. School officials including Rosenow are hopeful about their efforts to expand in Manteca.

“We’re kind of optimistic about our ability to get started with the (San Joaquin County Schools) approving our charter, but we don’t know yet,” Rosenow said.

After the public hearing on the appeal, the county board will have 30 days to study the matter and then vote on it at their next regular meeting which will be in February.

The San Joaquin County Board of Education’s regular meeting when they will conduct a public hearing on Great Valley’s appeal will begin at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 19. The meeting will be held in the Nelson Education Center Board Room at 2901 Arch-Airport Road off Highway 99 in Stockton.

For more information about the board meeting, call the administration office at (209) 468-4802.