[This is a continuation of a five part series on APS’s position on charter schools]
As the APS administration recommends denial of each and every charter petition, the arguments change and are not consistent over time.
I recognize that each petition is different and each has its own strengths and weaknesses that must be evaluated. But it is clear that the administration chooses specific reasons to deny a charter school and then conveniently forgets this position as it chooses other reasons to deny the next petition.
A clear example of this occurring is the reasons given to oppose the Drew Charter School expansion petition last year and the current recommendation to deny the Atlanta Classical Academy petition.
Central to the administrations recommendation to deny the Drew Charter School expansion was the overcapacity of seats in the system. Fortunately for the Drew Charter proponents, the Board of Education looked past this issue and granted the expansion petition. Given the fantastic results that Drew Charter has achieved, this was a victory for the children and parents in the area.
Now let’s turn to the current recommendation to deny the Atlanta Classical Academy (ACA) charter petition. One of the key arguments made by the administration is that ACA is requesting to use Sutton Middle School as an interim facility until a new facility is built (which ACA has demonstrated it has the financial capacity to do so). Currently Sutton has 700 seats that are unused – I believe that this would be considered “overcapacity”. ACA only needs 486-540 seats in the first two years – 700 at maximum enrollment. But now the administration’s position is that the “overcapacity” of seats at Sutton is insufficient for ACA in the short-term.
It is interesting to note that the “overcapacity” issue that was so central to the Drew Charter petition is not proffered in the case of ACA. This position by the administration is inconsistent and – in this case, certainly convenient.
So which is it? Is it that we have an “overcapacity” problem and therefore we need to deny charter petitions? Or is it that efficient use of the “overcapacity” will not be considered in the granting a charter petition?
I think the answer is clear – charter schools will be denied and “consistency” of positions is not required.