My children have attended Vista Charter School since they opened in 2009. We have just withdrawn all 3 of our children at the end of this trimester. In the beginning, we were promised piano, dance and singing lessons for our children. We were extremely excited about this school, and had a wonderful experience with Principal Goodman, who was the original director but was transferred to open another charter school, unfortunately.
The first year we were not offered piano lessons at all, the second year they were offered, but my daughter learned nothing due to the poor learning environment and inability to teach students at different levels. This year, we didn't even bother to take piano at the school because it was so pointless.
Voice lessons were eliminated the first year, and they are no longer offered.
My oldest daughter took ballet, but because they let two of the instructors go last year, there are no leveled classes in there anymore either. Now beginning and advanced students are in the same class, all learning at a beginners level. Again, a pointless waste of time.
The standardized test scores for Vista are much lower than public schools in the area.
On a personal note, a student who attended Vista since the beginning fell so far behind that, as a 7th grader, she has the math, spelling and writing skills of a 4th/5th grader. I have been tutoring her for several weeks now, and find her to be a quick learner who retains information. How did this school let her fall so far behind? According to her mother, the IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) were not implemented. In fact, the Vista Charter (the paperwork that the school must file documenting their purpose) goes on and on about how good they are and how important it is to them that each child gets an student specific education, especially any student falling behind. What a load of GARBAGE. In reality, they have no organized method to implement what they claim, nor is anybody held accountable for the IEPs. The school completely failed this student, who is withdrawing from Vista to go to a public school where the damage Vista has done can be reversed, hopefully. It's sickening. Vista's filed documents are written so they can get the funding they need to run these programs, but in reality provide a inadequate education. I'm guessing very little of that funding actually goes towards the programs they promised. It's a sham.
There are some additional programs for Vista, such as the Rising Stars and their dance company. It has been my experience that the same students seem to get selected over and over again, leaving out many other children who tried out. To make it worse, over 70% of the children selected for these programs are children of parents, teachers and politically involved members of Vista. That means if you are not employed or heavily involved with Vista Charter, your child will likely not benefit from these programs, which seem to be given to familiar faces rather than distributed fairly.
The discipline problems at Vista are tremendous. Children who have problems in the public schools come to Vista and bring their problems with them. I have never heard of so many students being expelled, suspended and disciplined. Last week a 7th grader sprayed another in the face with mace. If you need lots of distractions and a poor education, Vista is the place for your child, I guess.
The director, Mike Webb, is inept at his job. He doesn't answer emails, phone calls or make scheduled meetings. We know this because for the last 3 months we have been trying to talk to him about a simple situation that would have resolved issues for my family regarding the school and the Vista Transportation Organization, which is a poorly run, unsafe busing system for students who additionally stole $200 in fees from our family. Vista Charter denies any affiliation with the Vista Transportation Organization even though the bus is parked on their property and used for school outings. Mike Webb simply refused to address the issue, and further provoked the situation by lying, making excuses and avoiding us. He is simply a weak man with very little motivation to do the right thing. Carrie Hymas and Kim VonCannon are further examples of the poor character, low intelligence, lack of experience being allowed to run programs at the school.
The board at Vista is rude, dismissive and demeaning to parents, and in fact changed the charter to further limit parental involvement at the school. There was such drama in the board last year that one board member was removed, and parents were told to basically sit down and shut up at the board meetings. It is common for the board to tell parents that their issues will not be heard. Neil Walter, Chair of the board, is most vacuous, unhelpful person I have ever had to deal with regarding my simple, easily resolved issues. He is so busy trying to impress people with his credentials and appearance that he is serving that community that the one credential that he should have, integrity, is completely lacking. The only service he does is to promoting himself. How he lives with himself is beyond me. How somebody can be in a position to assist one family and three children/students in large ways with minimal effort and yet fail to step up even a little bit is simply beyond me. I hope he runs for an elected office again, I vow to stand on a street corner with his face marked out on a sign so that people should know he made enemies in this community. People should know how this man operates at the most basic levels when faced with the challenges of the parents of children he is supposed to be helping.
So, to be clear: 1.) The school has inadequate programs for children who have fallen behind, regardless of the repeated promised in their charter to do so. 2.) The 'Director', Mike Webb, hides when there is an issue and 3.) The Vista Charter School Governing Board won't deal with issues either and basically tell parents to keep their mouths shuts and further writes any obligation they have to parents of the school policies.
Additionally, the programs are going away, and the programs that are still left are poorly run. The education is lacking, and that is evident in their substandard test scores in comparison to other schools in the local area.
As of this year, Vista Charter School was running a budget that spent more money than they had, so they eliminated more programs. Their board is more discrediting towards parents than ever, the Vista Transportation Organization is being investigated by the Utah Department of Transportation, thank to our persistence, and more children are leaving the school than ever before.
These are the things, as a parent, I would want to know before I enrolled my child.