Credo High keeps charter
Enough cash raised to pay outstanding debts and to keep successful school open
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By Natalie Gray  October 11, 2013 12:00 am

Monday night, the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District (CRPUSD) Board of Trustees held a special meeting in which they voted 5-0 in favor of rescinding their previous intent to revoke Credo High School’s charter.

Some might have seen the signs when driving around town, posted with scotch tape to the back of car windows: signs that read, “Keep Credo open.” 

One such car drove up Southwest Boulevard on the night of Oct. 7 to reach Technology Middle School campus in time for the Cotati-Rohnert Park School Board special council meeting. 

If the driver of that car might have been a little late to the meeting, he or she probably would have had to stand in a horseshoe surrounding the stage of the middle school’s auditorium; the place was perfectly packed with Credo parents, students, teachers and all other Credo-supporters, some sitting with classmates and others wearing stickers proclaiming their support for the school on their shirts. 

“I’m really happy that everything is going to be okay,” said Credo Student Bella Roper, who, after only just recently transferring to the charter school, still found the time and passion to come to the board meetings to support her school. “Everyone is really accepting there and…excited to be there at school.”

The board meeting seemed to be over the moment it started, ending with the unanimous vote after a short but to-the-point four-person participation of public comment from the audience. After each address, students showed their support with sign-language applause and after the vote, every audience member lucky enough to find a chair stood to applaud the decision.

“It felt wonderful,” said Credo supporter and parent Kelly Hennessy said of the decision. “We’ve come to a resolution that serves every body’s best interest.”

In September, the CRPUSD Board of Trustees held a meeting to consider, and in the end voted in favor of, a notice of intent to revoke Credo’s Charter, without which, the school would no longer be able to remain open. 

In a letter sent to Credo parents, students and media, the board claimed that the school had failed to enroll their originally anticipated student body of 600 pupils (there are currently less than 100), which has thus created in a shortfall of funds. The CRPUSD claimed that Credo owed $50,000 in debt to the district as a result of the lack of funds. 

Credo’s acted fast, though, after having their charter threatened, to prove to the district that their small school body packed a lot of passion and devotion for their school. At the Sept. 23 meeting to originally revoke the charter, a wave of students, teachers, parents and Credo supporters spoke before the board of trustees to share their love for Credo and its alternative choice of education and plead for a second chance. 

The school also came together in a big way to raise $80,000 by Monday’s meeting. According to Credo Board of Directors member Maria Martinez, the goal is to raise $100,000, both to pay off their debt to CRPUSD and to have a cushion of funding for the school year. She believes the goal is reachable. 

“That they (CRPUSD) saw that we could raise that much money in that short of time impressed them,” said Martinez, whose son attends Credo. “We had a lot of dialogue (between Credo supports and the school district)…. I think it really shows a belief in the alternative education system.”

Though she claimed to be an optimist and believes Credo will be fine and function smoothly from here out, she does also know that more work needs to be done, mostly on the fundraising front. Martinez also stated that she believes the interaction between the school and the local school district has helped smooth out and tighten a better relationship between the two. She believes that both sides felt heard and understood by the other. 

“(This showed) the ability to have the skills and desire to resolves things peacefully,” said Hennessy. “I have no doubt that there was mistakes made from both sides (in the past), but really what matters is not placing blame…the future needs to be focused on now and looking at all the great opportunities facing us.”

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