Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Broward School Board says state needs to fix charter school mess, rejects $3.3 million grant - Sun Sentinel

Broward School Board says state needs to fix charter school mess, rejects $3.3 million grant - Sun Sentinel:

Broward rejects $3 million grant to lure charter schools




The Broward School Board overwhelmingly rejected a $3.3 million state grant on Tuesday to recruit successful charter-school companies to save their failing counterparts in the district.

Board members insisted it was the state's responsibility to tighten the charter school laws that allowed floundering schools to open in the first place and continue to operate.

"I am not in the business of going and cleaning up low-performing charter schools that take our money, that purchase things they shouldn't be purchasing," said board member Robin Bartleman. "The state needs to clean up the mess they created by not regulating them."

Charter schools receive public dollars but are run by independent governing boards.

But districts say charter school laws are too lenient, making them easy to open and difficult to shutter if they fail. A dozen charter schools in Broward are on two-year improvement plans because they earned D or F grades; 21 others have closed since 2012.

"The whole idea behind charter schools is that they can do it better than us," said board member Laurie Rich Levinson, who also opposed the grant. She said 37 percent of charter schools had C, D or F grades. "It's not our job to match up management companies with low performing schools and turn those schools around."

Superintendent Robert Runcie said the grant was an opportunity for the district to change the dynamic of when and where charter schools open. State law mandates local school districts to approve or deny new charter schools solely on applications that outline their plans in areas including instruction, mission and budget.

"Right now they just really show up anywhere. There isn't the type of relationship there needs to be with the community and district," he said.

Under the grant, the district would request proposals from applicants and conduct a rigorous review to include past performance. Approved management companies would partner with interested low-performing schools.

"To me this makes sense, to help those schools now while we wait to see other things that trickle down from Legislature," said board member Donna Korn. "I don't see them Broward School Board says state needs to fix charter school mess, rejects $3.3 million grant - Sun Sentinel:

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