Manton Valley Charter
The Manton Valley Charter School project began in 2017 as a local response by engaged parents and educators to news that our school’s services would be cut, perhaps even eliminated entirely, and our children bused out of the community. Together, we formed the Manton Education Council as a 501(c)(3) corporation to spearhead our efforts to keep education local, with an overall mission
“To kindle the flame of lifelong learning in children and uplift members of our rural Manton community by providing practical, hands-on educational tools and experiences.”
Before the consolidation of land and water rights by timber and power interests, many families homesteaded in Manton, and there were a number of small schools. These were consolidated into the Manton Joint Unified School District in 1920, with one school in the center of town serving the area’s shrinking population. The school has been a community focal point for generations, drawing community members together with countless sporting tournaments, dances, and the Manton Apple Festival, which celebrated its 25th year in 2017. A lapsation process began in the 2013-14 school year, and the administration of MJUSD was transferred to Antelope School District. The Antelope School District board has voted to close the Manton School in the spring of 2018, citing budget overruns. They are now busing our middle school children to Red Bluff, a nearly hour-long ride each way.
For us at the Manton Education Council, this development presents an existential threat to our rural community. Without a school of our own, we wonder, how will we attract families with young children? What message do we send our kids if we add schooling to the already long list of things for which they’re dependent on trips to town? How will we create community cohesion without a central shared space? And what will become of this set of buildings in the middle of our town if they are unoccupied? Manton, along with other rural towns in the eastern foothills, faces continued erosion of its economic sustainability and of its social and cultural continuity. If we cannot provide fertile ground for young people’s lives to root in, we may continue to see our population and economic base dwindle until we are little more than a bedroom and retiree community for the valley towns.
As an alternative, we propose the Manton Valley Charter School, a free K-8 public school with these principles as its foundation:
Teacher-powered organization means that teachers have maximum autonomy within state requirements to customize their curriculum to the needs and interests of the students, and that they share responsibility for school decision-making, for example by holding two of seven voting board seats. The curriculum will be student driven in ways where the teacher will encourage the children’s interest in a topic, and engage their curiosity for learning.
Our focus on practical skills, land stewardship, and grounded understanding arises from the particular challenges faced by our rural town, as well as the resources at our disposal. Obstacles to creating a vital community in our area revolve around its scarce job prospects, which stem largely from the difficulties of adapting traditional homesteading know-how to the contemporary economy. And yet we have considerable resources to draw upon in teaching our students, including local knowledge expressed in Manton’s agricultural enterprises, such as viticulture and wine-making, family farms operating Community Supported Agriculture businesses, beekeeping, and animal husbandry.
The skillsets and perspectives employed in these and other rural means of making a living are the hub of our vision of education, but the sort of student we intend to produce also integrates them with “three Rs” academic skills and, especially, with an understanding of how our rural place fits within the wider world. The Battle Creek watershed, for example, much of which is located in Manton, is an excellent vehicle for studying salmonid conservation and water usage issues, matters that link our position in California’s hydrologic system with myriad economic, scientific, and policy questions, and which can be taught with different foci at varying grade levels.
This is one example of the ways we can combine hands-on and conceptual learning with an aim to connect the local and the broader world. In this sense, while our petition responds most directly to our children’s educational needs in Manton, we recognize an opportunity here to offer land- and practice-based education to children from the communities neighboring the Manton Valley in both Tehama and Tehama counties.
In accordance with the California Charter Schools Act of 1992, as amended, (“Charter Schools Act”) Manton Valley Charter School hereby submits this petition for its charter school.
The Charter Schools Act states:
It is the intent of the Legislature to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure, as a method to accomplish all of the following:
Further, Education Code section 47605(b) states: “In reviewing petitions for the establishment of charter schools pursuant to this section, the chartering authority shall be guided by the intent of the Legislature that charter schools are and should become an integral part of the California educational system and that establishment of charter schools should be encouraged."
Manton Valley Charter makes important contributions to the legislative goals outlined above. By granting this charter petition, the LEA School District will help fulfill the intent of the Charter Schools Act, while providing students in the area with a quality, hands-on educational option.
FOUNDING CHARTER LEADERSHIP
Catherine Mancino, Founding Teacher for Manton Valley Charter School
Catherine Mancino is a ‘SoCal’ transplant. Catherine, along with her husband and two boys moved to Manton in Tehama County in 2007. She holds a B. A. from San Diego State University as well as a Master’s in Religious Education from Loyola University. She received her state of California multiple subject teaching credential from Chapman College. Catherine has 21 years teaching experience in grades K-8 in the California small schools system. She has taught at and sent her children to the small school in her community of Manton from 2008 until the present, teaching multiple subjects in a multi-grade class. Catherine is a firm believer in the power of small schools to find and build on the strengths of each unique child. She would like more than anything to see the small school system continue to exist and thrive in small rural communities.
Katherine Zablan, Founding Resource Specialist and Home School Teacher
Katherine brings a long history of education expertise and excellence to our group. She earned her BA at University of Hawaii, and her California Teaching Credential from CSU Sacramento. Katherine spent 4 years as a Waldorf School Administrator, and in 1997 returned to CSU Sacramento to earn a Resource Specialist credential in Special Education. Katherine worked for 10 years as a Resource Specialist, Art & Theater teacher and Department Chair overseeing 16 SPED teachers and 16 paraprofessionals at Armijo High School in Fairfield, California. After moving to the North State, Katherine developed and ran the Transitions Intervention Program at Red Bluff High School. Katherine also has experience as a home school teacher for high school students. Over the past several years, Katherine has worked as the resource specialist for the Manton School. She is dedicated to doing whatever she can to facilitate a well-established charter school in Manton.
Marlo M. Eakes Meyer, M.A., Founding Interim Charter Administrator
Marlo has worked in the field of graduate education for the past 17 years for the University of Virginia. Marlo has worked from home in her current positon as Education Administrator for the Department of Pediatrics for the past 8 years. She holds a Masters of Arts in Anthropology from California State University, Chico. Marlo is committed to local education and the preservation of rural communities. Marlo will work as the charter school interim administrator until the position is filled.
Matthew D. S. Meyer, PhD, Founding Charter Elective Coordinator (volunteer position)
Matthew was born in Northern California and grew up in Chico. He was a Rotary exchange student to Brazil after high school, and later did fieldwork in the Brazilian Amazon for his PhD in anthropology (U Virginia 2014). He has extensive experience teaching students of all ages, and has taught anthropology, Spanish, and Portuguese at the university level. Matthew enjoys taking walks with his dogs and working outside. Matthew will be leading the elective portion of the charter school.
Michelle Heino, Founding Charter Custodian/Cook/Van Driver
Michelle Heino, loves to work to spread the love of nature, agriculture, and youth she gained from roots in Tehama County farming. While moving about the world she has worked in various volunteer positions in schools from classroom to PTA, in churches youth education programs, with the Girl Scouts of America from troop to a regional council, in 4-H as a leader and county council officer, and on agriculture non-profits from the Mountain Growers Association (farmers market) and the North Valley Dairy Goat Association. She loves to jump in and help as needed- be it washing windows, serving on committees or writing bylaws and budgets, but most of all she likes working directly where she can see a love of learning ignite in people.
In addition, Manton Valley Charter School will work with the following groups of professionals in filling out the school’s leadership in the areas of curriculum, instruction, finance, business management, governance, and administration.
LEA School District
Partnership to be determined.
California State University, Chico Department of Agriculture
CSU Chico Department of Agriculture has agreed to a partnership with MVCS to send college interns to our campus to implement su