Albert Einstein Academy launches fundraiser

Len Unkeless and Gino Fronti at the Albert Einstien Academy fundraiser on Sunday, March 11. Georgia Rios/The Signal
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On Sunday afternoon, parents and board members gathered to raise funds for the Albert Einstein Academy programs in the Santa Clarita Valley.

After losing their high school charter at the beginning of the year due to “financial mismanagement over the years,” parent and board member Gino Fronti said Sunday he was hopeful the school would be able to go down a new and more successful path with new leadership in place.

Fronti said the group gathered in the first floor of the Sunkist building were individuals trying to fix the years of wrongdoings, focused on raising money in order to “help erase the past as fast as possible, so that we (the parents) can focus on the future.”

Serving almost 300 families, the charter school in Newhall offers grades ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.

Fronti said his support for the charter school stems from his belief that public schools aren’t meant for everyone. “It’s not one size fits all,” he said. “It’s one size, fits some, and Albert Einstein had a more flexible approach for his needs, to be able to adapt.”

The Albert Einstein Academy in Newhall is one of three schools — the two others being in Agua Dulce and Beverly Hills.

The fundraising effort looks to address the recent trouble the schools’ charter management organization has been in with respect to a history of questions regarding its finances — the “financial mismanagement” that Fronti was referring to. In October 2017, Albert Einstein’s Agua Dulce Partnership was part of the focus of a larger State Auditor’s Report about the oversight and monitoring of charter schools in the Acton Agua Dulce district.

Past correspondence from the Acton Agua Dulce Unified School District’s Governing Board indicated the charter school has operated with a negative ending fund balance since its first interim budget report in January 2016. The board also expressed concerns about debt from AD Partnership’s operator in February 2017.

The governing board, which approved the charters for Newhall and the Agua Dulce campus, recently discussed a violation letter regarding the challenges.

Parents also recently received the following message from the school’s administrators:

“Dear AEA Families,

Our Board President and CEO have been in tight negotiations with an investor. This is an urgently needed opportunity for our school, and will solidify our future. This investor is also committed to helping us create a k though 12 experience for our students in the Santa Clarita Valley.

One of the concerns is the amount of capital needed to finish this school year. Parents have been asking what can be done. As a community, we need to come up with a plan to fundraise. Currently, we are asking the investor for $500,000 of capital. If our families make a strong commitment to fundraise $150,000, then we can negotiate a lower capital investment from the investor. We are working every angle, and we need everyone’s help and support to make this happen.

Do we have volunteers that would be interested in forming a fundraising committee? Time is of the essence, and we would need a basic plan by Thursday of this week.

Our goal is to prove to this investor that we are a worthy investment, and that we are willing to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the future of AEA.

AEA Leadership Team”

The school created a dedicated website for donations, as well as an opportunity for the entire community to participate a Color Run in April. (For more information, click here.)

“We do this out of love, the school was established out of love and care for our kids beyond anything else,” said Len Unkleless, parent volunteer. “We care about our kids over everything. We do what it takes, as much as we can, to give the kids what we think they deserve.”

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