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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Charter Commission - Second Meeting, Part Two

Charter Commission discussion

The biggest bone of contention at this point is the lottery system for approved charter school applications.

Now my initial read (and others as well) was that if the Board of Education received more than 8 approved charter applications from all authorizers, then they would go into a straight lottery. 

The Attorney General's reading is that the seven that get to the BOE's office first will be stamped and approved.  (The BOE has NO role in authorization - they just need to document when applications come into their office.)  The BOE will, however, decide what the word "simultaneous" means. 

Any approved applications that come in eighth (and it's still unclear how big a window there will be - maybe just a day), those will go into the lottery.

There are some on the Commission that seem quite uncomfortable with the "race" aspect to the applications.   There seems to be consensus on the Commission to try to get clarity on this.

The question was asked - how do other states handle it?  No one knew.

Here's what the Commission seems to now realize:

- it's a race to get an application in.  The first part of the race is deciding who to submit your application to (if you have that choice) - meaning, the Charter Commission or your local school district (if they are an authorizer).  They can only choose to submit to one so who will be faster?  The Charter Commission is likely to get way more applications so it could be slower BUT the school district may have fewer resources and/or be looking for something specific for their district and will reject anything else.

- The second part of the race is once a charter is approved by an authorizer, the race is to your approve application as fast as possible (literally) to the BOE.  

- HOWEVER, even if you aren't part of the first 7 approved applications, even if you are part of the lottery for the 8th spot (and don't get it), your approved application will roll over into NEXT year's group of 8 spots.

And so, these early years favor those who get it together and have a good/decent application.  Because if you get approved, right now it looks like you will get a charter spot.

The Commission seems unhappy with this idea and would prefer the BOE to only allow 1-2 rollover spots.  AG seemed unsure of this issue.

One Commission, Cindi Williams, said that RTTT was obviously a race but they had criteria with a point scale that helped break any deadlock on timing.  I think that would mean ALL authorizers would have to agree to a criteria with point scale and I don't see that happening.  (I'm not even sure if, under the law, they could do it.)

Charter Commission Staff

There was discussion around the qualification list for the Executive Director.  It was termed a "hefty" job description.

There was also discussion over wanting someone from in-state versus someone from out of state who had worked with charters.  They decide that charter experience wouldn't count more than any other qualification. 

When they last talked, the salary looked to be about $98k (before benefits) but they now seem to want to push it up to six figures (before benefits). 

It sounds like they want to post this as soon as possible and have it open for a month.  There was talk of hiring a recruiting firm but there was disagreement on it.

There was also disagreement on whether the Commission would ask the State to pay any kind of moving costs. 

From the National Association of Charter School Authorizers Presentation:

-  highlighted New Orleans a lot was interesting because of the number of problems they have.   (After Katrina, New Orleans reinvented its school district with nearly all charters.  The results are all over the place.  They are especially poor in serving students with special needs. Only half the number of the students in public school before Katrina are currently enrolled in public schools there.  In a recent poll, 52% of residents wanted the district to return to local control, 35% disagreed and nearly 25% thought the state should have long-term oversight of charter school boards.)

- said "give priority to serving at-risk populations or students from low-performing public schools."  That would be good except the language of the law says "give preference."  Not the same thing.

- says "due diligence (experienced operators)" - wouldn't that give preference to out-of-state operators since we have never had any charter schools before?  Again, the question is: is it more important to have in-state charters because they are more likely to know our communities/regions and what they need OR get experienced charter operators?

- evaluation team composition - looks like a lot of hiring of consultants.  Gates and Walton aren't going to help fund this work forever for districts who are authorizers.  Where will the money come from?

- there is also the consideration of cyber-charters.   They would likely come from the Charter Commission process.

- an interesting fact - before 2003, states with charters approved 68% of applications.  Today, that is down to between 34-38%.

- he also said that "it's a buyer's market for CMOs" with 6-12 cities courting those charter management orgs.  He said the pending lawsuit could turn off CMOs.  

CRPE Presentation

barriers to charter growth - facilities, lack of philanthropic support, lack of per-pupil funding, limited supply of high-quality principals and teachers, et al.

- also highlighted New Orleans

4 comments:

Po3 said...

Sounds like a big giant mess getting underway.

Watching said...

Does the Charter Commission really need to hire an individual to watch over 8 schools?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, they need a group of someones to read through the applications and yes, then someone to watch over 8 schools.

And that someone (plus a half-time person) will do the office stuff. Oh, and watch over whatever number of schools are under their authority (remember, ther Charter Commission may have between 0-8 schools under their authority).

Anonymous said...

n said...

Thanks for keeping us informed on the process. Sounds like another rabbit hole to me.