Granada Hills Charter (GHC) is one of a few charter public schools in California that has been in operation for 20 years.
It all started in 2003 when educators at GHC voted to turn this once district-run school into an independent charter public high school. It was a seminal moment in public education because the collective action forced the second largest school district in the U.S. – the Los Angeles Unified School District – to relinquish control of Granada Hills High School.
Brian Bauer, CEO and Superintendent of GHC, recently appeared on CCSA’s CharterNation Podcast and reflected on that critical time in the charter school’s history and how GHC has evolved into a TK through 12th grade charter public school.
Granada Hills Charter’s student newspaper, The Plaid Press, recently published a news article chronicling the school’s history as part of its 20th anniversary celebration.
Here’s an abbreviated version of the article written by student reporters Lily Angel and Isabel Hicks which explains how GHC defied the odds to become one of the most successful charter public schools in the U.S.:
In 2002, Granada Hills High School began the process of becoming a charter which took over a year and included many rounds of meetings and petitioning of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
As an independent charter, the school would become independent and able to create its own curriculum and policies, though still receiving public funds unlike a private school.
“It was a very intense time. But we ultimately, without the Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent’s recommendation, made it onto the LAUSD board’s agenda. We started working towards becoming a charter in the summer of 2002 and in late May 2003, the board finally approved us,” CEO Brian Bauer said.
According to the charter school law in California, the school needed the support of its teaching staff in order to convert to independent charter status. Not only did almost every teacher support the drive for independence, all classified staff and administrators rallied for the school to move in this direction.
Additionally, the school was able to count on considerable support from the community. Many parents at the time feared LAUSD would require the school to switch to a year-round calendar and were therefore in support of the school becoming a charter.
With the support of the community and the majority of the LAUSD school board, the school was granted the status of a charter school for a one year period after a successful 5-2 vote.
“Although most schools have a year to a year and a half to prepare themselves to launch a charter, we had only six weeks after being approved,” Bauer said.
Despite only having six weeks to prepare before the start of the 2003-2004 school year, the school successfully met the requirements and established itself as a charter school.
Many teachers saw the switch to a charter school as a positive step towards a more supportive and professionally enriching teaching environment. They were willing to make the sacrifice in order to have more freedom to teach what they thought was appropriate for the community at Granada.
The transformation of Granada Hills High School into a charter institution has brought about significant changes, including greater autonomy over its curriculum, budget, and expenditures. This shift has had a profound impact on the school, propelling it to consistently earn high rankings and establish itself as a premier school in the state of California.
Since becoming a charter, the school has been able to provide programs like International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone, Global Business Finance (GBF), and New Media Academy, along with expanding its offerings in visual and performing arts.
More than ten years ago, the school launched its highly regarded Independent Study Program, iGranada, and almost four years ago was approved by the LAUSD Board to offer a grades TK-8 program.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished in the past 20 years, are committed to continuing to provide our students with the best education possible, and are eager to see what the next 20 years brings for our school and community,” Bauer said.
>> To read the entire article in GHC's student newspaper The Plaid Press, click this link: GHC will celebrate its 20th anniversary as a charter.
>> If you'd like to learn more about Granada Hills Charter, check out its website by clicking here.
This CharterNation blog article is a collaboration between CCSA and Granada Hills Charter (GHC) through CCSA's Guest Blogger partnership. If you belong to a CCSA member school and would like your school's content featured on the CharterNation Blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.