The impetus for the Novato Charter School began with a small group of founding parents who were actively involved in the Novato public school system. In researching alternative programs, the group learned of Senator Gary Hart’s charter school legislation (SB1448). This bill, passed in 1992, was intended to encourage parents, educators, and members of the community to try innovative approaches to education in order to find ways of improving student learning. This legislation allowed for the development of 100 charter schools in California.
In February of 1994, an expanded group of founding parents began meeting to explore the possibilities of a common vision for educational reform. Once they discovered a solid common ground, they decided to move forward. They addressed the thirteen elements set forth in the legislation in the form of a petition to the local school governing board. Once they had the required signatures from district teachers indicating their support, they submitted the petition to the Novato Unified School District Board of Trustees. The Trustees came back with a set of conditions to be met. These were addressed and on May 23, 1995 the petition for the Novato Charter School received unanimous support from the Board of Trustees. The petition and conditions were then sent to the State Board of Education for approval. On July 19, 1995 final approval was received and Novato Charter School became California’s 89th charter school.
In August of 1996 the school officially opened with kindergarten through fifth grade enrollment. An additional grade was added each year and now the school goes from kindergarten to 8th grade.