The Cotati-Rohnert Park School Board has rescinded its notice of intent to revoke the charter for Credo High School, ostensibly putting an end to months of acrimony between the fledgling school and its chartering school district.
"We intend to be as hands-off as the education code allows us," said Cotati-Rohnert Park Superintendent Robert Haley. "What we heard two weeks ago was they just need space to move from surviving to thriving. So we intend to give them that space."
The 5-0 vote Monday night ended a process begun in June when the board made formal the notice of violation, accusing Credo officials of financial and administrative mismanagement.
On Sept. 23, the board voted to officially proceed with the revocation but allowed backers of the Waldorf-inspired school extra time to address its debt and administrative issues.
But Credo backers did not need 45 days.
In the past week, Credo backers have paid $57,337 owed to the district and $4,743 to PG&E, the city of Rohnert Park and Rohnert Park Disposal.
School and district officials are making clear to Credo's creditors that the district is not liable for the school's ongoing financial obligations.
"We cleared up our short term debt with them," Credo board president Maria Martinez said. "I think that was a big piece of the puzzle."
"The fundraising really made a huge difference," she said. "The momentum from the parents is huge. We didn't have that before."
Credo also has progressed in the accreditation process, which is critical to getting college prepatory curriculum approved by the state university systems. A decision by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges on Credo's accreditation is expected in January, Martinez said.
The high school currently serves about 100 ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders, putting a premium on low-technology and art-heavy curriculum. It stands out academically — posting the third-highest state test scores of any high school in Sonoma County in its first two years.
Martinez said the enrollment goal for the 2013-14 school year — the first year that a full complement of high school grades will be served — is 140 students.
But enrollment has consistently fallen below projections and district officials said the school's budgeting has so far failed to adjust to a smaller than expected number of students.
"They have to balance their budget," Haley said. "They have to use realistic enrollment figures to do that."
Haley credited Martinez with improving the direction of talks between the school and district officials when she was named president of the board in July.
"It feels like we are on an even keel," Martinez said.
Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@press democrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.