Extended school days + smaller class sizes + a program that prepares students for life after college = Portola Academy.
That's part of a formula the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation promises will be successful if a petition for a north Livermore K-8 charter school is accepted by the
School district trustees on Tuesday held a public hearing for the .
"We believe we're going to do something different and we're going to do it very well," TVLC Chief Operating Officer Bill Batchelor said at the public hearing.
The proposed Portola Academy would be housed in the campus where the Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High School is currently located on 2451 Portola Ave. — the former site of the school district's .
The corporation opened a high-school program at the Portola Avenue campus last year with a freshman class of about 70 students.
Over the next four to six years, the campus on Portola Avenue is expected to grow to about 1,000 students and .
The corporation also runs a kindergarten through eighth-grade off Sonoma Avenue. The cramped school houses more than 900 students on a campus built for 500 students, with many classes held in portables, officials said.
The proposed Portola Academy is projected to house up to 560 students, Batchelor said.
That would translate into a nearly $3 million loss in Average Daily Attendance revenue to Livermore public schools, said Susan Kinder, the district's chief business official.
Batchelor, along with many other speakers in favor of a new charter school, said Portola Academy would address a need to serve its surrounding low-income and Hispanic community.
However, a district report shows the campus — which enrolls students in the area Portola Academy plans to serve — offers similar programs to what charter officials are proposing. Those programs include extended-day learning and English/Spanish dual immersion courses, among others.
Several parents and students also spoke in favor of the Junction Avenue campus and advised the board to reject the Portola Academy petition.
Still, there is a strong demand for charter schools in town.
A lottery is held each year to see which students will be able to attend the charter schools, Batchelor said.
"We turn away as many children as we enroll each year," he said.
Add Tom Gray's children to that mix.
His two kids currently attend the district's school and have failed to win the charter lottery in the past few years.
Gray said he prefers what the charter school is offering over public schools.
"There is no real learning due to No Child Left Behind," he said of the public school system. "They are teaching to the test. I'm not happy and I don't like it."
While it appears the petition has fueled a battle between Portola Academy and Junction Avenue K-8 School, some said talks of a new charter gives the community a choice.
"It is not a competition. Neither is better or worse. No school is best for all students," said , Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory High School principal. "Portola Academy simply represents a choice for parents and students."
District trustees are scheduled to make a final decision to approve or deny the charter petition in January.