El Camino Real High School has won six national academic quiz championships, boasts test scores that rank it as one of California’s top secondary schools, and offers two dozen college-level courses ranging from macroeconomics to human geography. Activities include a model United Nations and mock trials. The school is a source of immense pride for the beleaguered Los Angeles Unified School District, but like other successful schools before it, El Camino is about to break off from the district to get more funding and flexibility in how it spends its dollars as a charter school, the Associated Press reports.

“This is a huge loss for us,” said LAUSD school board member Nury Martinez at a recent meeting. “This feels like a divorce.”

With budget woes showing no signs of letting up, El Camino and other traditional neighborhood schools like it are converting to public charter schools, bleeding scarce dollars from cash-strapped districts and siphoning students. It’s a troubling pattern for school districts–every student enrolled in a charter means a funding loss, and defections of their own schools and principals are a blow to district esteem…

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staff and wire services reports