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We are Santa Barbara Charter School. Our mission is to cultivate learning in the areas of the arts, academics, and relationships.

We are a materials-based program and believe that learning takes place when students have an opportunity to construct meaning from their own experiences. Our goal is to provide an educational program with breadth and depth for students with different learning styles and types of intelligence.

The school opened September 15, 1993, on the campus of Goleta Valley Junior High School, and has functioned there in an uninterrupted manner since.

The school was founded as a result of the commitment of a group of parents and educators who wished to affirm their support for public education by creating an alternative for families who want to be involved in a nontraditional school. Enrollment is not limited to Santa Barbara School District boundaries.

Educational Approach

Santa Barbara Charter School is a parent participation school with a child-centered approach to education.
The school’s curriculum is based on the Common Core State Standards and Santa Barbara Charter School’s Student Goals and Learner Objectives. Elements of Waldorf, Montessori, and Humanistic models of education are incorporated. The theory of multiple intelligences is embraced as a foundation for both curriculum and methodology. Academics are taught through the arts, using drama, stories, music, and storytelling.  The teachers use Culturally Responsive practices and anti-bias curriculum.

A close-knit community

School is not just for students and teachers to interact; it is also the place where the community orchestrates its learning and growth objectives for the next generation.

Parents are the bridge for that orchestration to take place. They are involved in all aspects of the school’s operation. They help make decisions about philosophy and policy, help fulfill myriad administrative duties, act as aides and specialists, tutor students, serve on committees, and prepare classroom materials.

Parents who are willing and able to further cooperate with the school also come together with a group of teachers in the Parent Alliance, a fundamental foundation of our school and a community participation bridge.

A comfortable place to grow

By design, Santa Barbara Charter School is a small school: our small size encourages a thoughtful school culture in which discussion and dialogue thrive. When issues arise, students and their educational needs remain at the center of any response. Knowing that no decision is irreversible, we dare to experiment. Ideas are formulated collectively and action can be initiated quickly.

Developing strong relationships

The program has deep roots in progressive and humanistic educational philosophy and emphasizes developing strong relationships with self, others, community and the environment.

Group cohesiveness develops as children learn effective decision making, problem solving and communication skills.

Fact Sheet

  • Santa Barbara Charter School (SBCS), founded in 1993, is one of the oldest charter schools in the nation. Charter schools are free, public schools that are allowed to run independently from the larger school system.
  • Enrollment in SBCS is open and non-preferential. When there are more applicants than spaces available, lotteries are held to determine placements. Students may live anywhere in Santa Barbara County or adjacent counties.
  • SBCS was founded on the idea that small school size and choice benefit public education. SBCS serves about 240 children grades K-6th grade on our campus and an additional 70 in the K-8th grade HomeBased Partnership.
  • Our small size allows us to be innovative, creative and responsive to changing student needs and to take advantage of best practices in the field of education.
  • We have an active core of parent, grandparent, and community member volunteers working to make SBCS a great place for children.
  • SBCS nurtures learning through “the Arts, Academics and Relationships” –

Art skills are cultivated, as is an overall appreciation for the arts. Arts are also integrated into academic subjects to access students’ strongest skills.

Academics include the development of critical and creative thinking rather than simply focusing on the 3Rs to prepare for standardized tests. Responsive instruction emphasizes establishing context and finding meaning.

Relationships are enhanced by small size and the teaching of peaceful conflict resolution, empathy for others, and respect for one’s self, others and the environment.

These values will be emphasized regardless of the funding trends or political constraints of the day.