River Islands developer Susan Dell’Osso, who also serves as academy trustee, requested a joint meeting Wednesday, Nov. 6, to discuss her board’s concerns about Banta eventually taking over the academy site, 73 W. Stewart Road, in Lathrop.
“We got the timeline and it almost seems all the years we worked together were thrown out the door,” Dell’Osso said. “It almost felt like the decision how Banta would go into the school was done without discussion.”
The academy, which opened Aug. 14, falls under the jurisdiction of the Banta school district.
The project was considered unique, because the school was built before any home construction at River Islands and its first students had to come from outside the district. As a result, Banta officials said they needed to plan for the children who will live in the development.
Banta board President Frank Silva told Dell’Osso on Wednesday that the timeline was not set in stone.
“Banta is responsible to educate the children out there,” Silva said “I think River Islands is doing a great program. We can work side by side.”
Dell’Osso said the timeline alarmed her board and raised questions among the academy’s students and families regarding the future of their school.
“We want to make sure we’re part of the decision-making process,” she said.
She said it appeared the charter was getting kicked out of the school by 2015.
But Silva said Banta board members are pleased with the charter school, and any expansion could be accomplished by adding portable classrooms until something permanent could be arranged.
Academy Trustee Gene Neeley said his board would have liked to be part of the initial timeline discussions.
Silva told him the Banta trustees needed to discuss the topic among themselves before presenting ideas to anyone else.
“Our goal is to have a presence out there,” Silva said. “Our goal is to work alongside you and not affect what you already have.”
Banta Superintendent Albert Garibaldi reminded all the trustees that the charter site was built with the intention of having the charter school occupy the elementary campus and a Banta school go into the middle school site.
“This is not something that’s an attack on the charter,” Garibaldi said. “My intention is to do three things: protect the district, protect the charter school and work for the benefit of the (River Islands) development.”
Dell’Osso suggested creating a subcommittee, but Silva rejected that proposal. He said that would enable only a few board members to have a say in the matter.
Both boards agreed to meet regularly to address the future of River Island’s educational programs.
“We need to keep an open dialogue as we move forward, get together so we can proceed step by step,” Silva said.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.