High school students residing in the urban core of downtown San Diego and its surrounding neighborhoods are underserved by the existing options for their 9th -12th grade learning experience. Over 50% of the students residing in the downtown attendance area commute to other areas of San Diego for their high school experience. A new and innovative charter high school will increase the learning opportunities for all students in San Diego Unified and, in particular, those students who live in and around the downtown area. To that end, the San Diego Public Library Foundation, the City of San Diego, and the San Diego Unified School District hold a common desire to establish a charter high school at the New San Diego Central Library in downtown San Diego and to serve the needs of these students. This represents an unprecedented alliance in the development of a charter high school.
The co-location of a charter high school within a public library is also unprecedented and offers extensive opportunities for collaboration, as both organizations support a mission of lifelong learning and literacy. While the primary focus is on the education of our students, we hope to provide a new design for re-considering urban secondary education as a partnered venture between small high schools and community-based organizations. This design will demonstrate the mutual benefit of going beyond simply sharing space to sharing a common purpose. Our charter school in the New San Diego Central Library holds the promise of a vanguard project for both small urban high schools and 21st century libraries.
Furthermore, the establishment of a high quality, high performing charter school requires careful research, planning, and adherence to state education codes and the charter school petition process. As a part of this collaborative effort, the Center for Education Policy and Law (CEPAL) assisted our charter school governing board as part of its development team to provide research and guidance in critical areas that need to be addressed in pursuit of the overall goal of establishing a charter high school in the New San Diego Central Library.