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Petaluma's Waugh district weighs move to charter schools

The Waugh School Board next week is expected to vote on whether to submit an application to the state to convert both of its Petaluma campuses into charter schools.

The move would keep Sonoma County at the forefront of a statewide trend that has seen charter school conversions skyrocket in recent years.

Sonoma County trailed only Los Angeles in new charter schools this school year, with 10 of the 11 new schools being conversions from traditional to charter.

"In Sonoma County, because there are 40 districts, by converting to charter there are potential huge gains to a district by doing relatively nothing different," Waugh Superintendent Bob Cmelak said. "I think everyone is starting to realize there is a charter loophole here."

The decision to pursue a charter application came after district officials struggled to stave off budget cuts of $1.4 million of the $6.4 million guaranteed in state funding formulas.

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