Marin approaches school supervision pact with Ross Valley Charter

An interim pact between the Marin County Board of Education and the Ross Valley Charter is due to be approved by the County Board of Education on Tuesday.

The 70-page memorandum of understanding outlines the scope of duties of what would be the first oversight by a county education office over a charter school under a new state law.

The state’s Department of Education, the former supervisor of the Fairfax charter school, is barred from continuing in this role under the new law, which calls for more local oversight. The Ross Valley School District, reportedly the local watchdog, rejected the charter school’s five-year renewal petition last year.

State officials approved the renewal of the petition earlier this year and assigned the oversight role to the Marin County Office of Education.

The deal is attached to the board’s agenda at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The agenda is online at

According to Terena Mares, deputy superintendent of schools in Marin, the deal was reached after 12 weeks of negotiations with the charter school.

“Throughout our negotiations with the Ross Valley Charter School, professionalism and emphasis on ensuring a sustainable and effective educational environment for students has guided our collective work in developing this draft protocol. ‘final deal,’ Mares wrote in his introduction to the pact.

Among the controls put in place in the agreement, the charter school will be required to maintain budget reserves of at least 5% and keep detailed books on all income and expenses. County representatives will be included in all school finance committee meetings.

The charter school of about 200 students, as in the past, will receive per student funding from the state and will have the opportunity to seek other sources of income.

The county also reserves the right to make unannounced visits to the school campus, in accordance with the agreement. He indicated that annual site visits and a visit before the school reopens in August are also required.

“The Marin County Board of Education, its representative or a third party oversight body for the charter school reserves the right to personally visit the charter school,” the agreement reads.

Mary Jane Burke, county school superintendent, said she would get help managing the financial oversight role from the Financial Crisis Management Assistance Team, an agency of Independent state that monitors financial education issues.

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