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GVA explains $300K paid to school founder, answers other allegations
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Eldon Rosenow, founder of the Great Valley Academy charter school in Modesto that is looking into opening another campus in Manteca, receives an annual salary of $300,000.

Once the charter school in Manteca is approved, Great Valley will pay a monthly rent of $18,000 to the Place of Refuge (Assembly of God) on Button Avenue for the use of its Manteca Christian School facility.

“No, of course not,” was the quick and firm reply from Cy Cole, founding principal of the Modesto Great Valley Academy, when asked if the information about Rosenow’s salary is correct.

“Amazing,” is how Rosenow, Modesto optometrist for about three decades, reacted to that bit of news, which is just one of the misleading information that has been circulating soon after the Manteca Unified School District Board of Education unanimously denied Great Valley’s application for a new charter school in Manteca at their meeting earlier this month. Some of the misinformation has also appeared in blogs posted in the Manteca Bulletin web site.

He denied receiving that kind of six-figure salary from the school that he founded three years ago. “That’s why I drive a car that’s 26 years old, a 1986 El Camino,” he said. The vehicle belonged to his late father-in-law, and when he died, “my wife didn’t want to give it away,” Rosenow said.

As to the other misinformation going around, “The $18,000 is incorrect,” said Cole, addressing the rumored monthly rental fee for Manteca Christian School which is closing its doors at the end of the current school year due to dwindling enrollment.

“In fact, we are currently in negotiations with the Place of Refuge and there are no final terms of agreement,” he explained.

As to the clarification on his reported $300,000 annual salary, Rosenow said that he did receive that amount last year from the school. However, most of it was payment for money that he had loaned to the school when it was launched three years ago. That first year, he loaned $130,000 of his own money to pay for attorneys’ fees and accountants’ fees plus other expenses related to the filing of the charter petitions. The petition was denied twice before it was finally approved by the Stanislaus County Office of Education. He got paid back for those expenses last year. He was also reimbursed between $70,000 and $80,000 which was money used for expenses relating to other school programs including Path to Reading.

“We’re the only school in the country using this program,” Rosenow said of the program geared for students who have trouble reading or acquiring reading skills due to a “mismatch between two major brain tracks that carry information back to the interpretive center” of the brain.

“It’s a computer program, and we’re having some interesting success with that. But that does not fall under conventional state funding,” so he ponied up the money, Rosenow further explained.

Rounding out the $300,000 check he received was his $99,000 salary for last year which was the same amount paid to Cole as the school principal.

But now that Rosenow’s start-up corporation, Smart Schools of California, which launched the school has been “disbanded” - Rosenow’s term, or “eliminated,” the word used by Cole – the school founder is taking a significant pay cut as Great Valley’s chief administrative officer.

“So now, I’m just a school employee. I work with students in the school. I manage all the finances for the school, and do planning and promotion for future schools,” said Rosenow.

Addressing their detractors’ criticisms that Great Valley’s teachers are not certified, hence, are not qualified to teach, Cole disputed those claims saying, “all our teachers that teach core subjects are required to be certified.”

Currently, they have six teachers who are handling the core subjects, he said. Some of the subjects being taught at the school don’t require the teachers to be certificated. There are two or three of these teachers on staff, said Cole who will be Great Valley’s superintendent for the two campuses once the new school in Manteca opens. The position of principal at Great Valley Academy in Modesto will go to Amy Gross, one of the first teachers at Sierra High School in Manteca when it opened. Russ Howell, vice principal at the Modesto campus, has been named as principal of the future Great Valley Academy in Manteca.

The Modesto campus has an enrollment of 650. Sixty of those students are from Manteca. Other students are from Lathrop, Tracy and Lodi. Great Valley in Modesto currently has a waiting list of more than 200, according to school officials.