APS Charter School Task Force holds meeting – looks to improve relationship between traditional and charter schools


This past Wednesday, the APS Board of Education Charter School Task Force met to consider ways to improve the relationships and collaboration between traditional and charter schools and then to make recommendations to the full Board. See the full list of members below. The Task Force is charged with the following objectives:

  1. Identify and exchange policy/programmatic academic best practices between charter and traditional APS schools.
  2. Identify economies of scale to ensure the financial stability of APS charter and traditional schools.
  3. To think strategically and collaboratively about the future of charter schools in APS.

Mr. Amos requested that each member provide their thoughts on the pros and cons of the interrelationship between charter schools and APS. The following is a summary of the Task Force members thought on this:

Pros:

  • There is an evolving and positive relationship between with the APS Office of innovation headed by Alan Mueller.
  • APS is very good about providing access to surplus facilities to the charter schools.
  • The co-location of a traditional and charter middle schools is working out very well.
  • The Office of Innovation provides strong support to the charter schools.
  • There is a very positive relationship with APS in getting assistance for children with Special Needs.
  • Charter schools are able to do a lot very well with much less funding than the traditional schools.
  • Alan Mueller is focused on approving high quality charter schools, has fairly evaluated the charter school petitions and has closed down non-performing charter schools.

Cons:

  • Charter school innovations are not being adequately passed on to traditional schools.
  • Concerns about the equity of funding between charter and traditional schools.
  • There is a lot of data that indicates certain practices – “cherry picking” & “lemon dropping” – are not happening. However, this information is not being adequately disseminated to the public.
  • Charter schools are not included in the long-term strategic plan of APS and there is no long-term plan of action regarding charter schools.
  • There is a concern that charter schools will take resources away from traditional schools.
  • Charter schools are often an afterthought when APS is considering policy, resource allocations and other changes.
  • There is not enough communication between traditional and charter schools.
  • There is a lack of clarity on the funding that charter schools will receive throughout the funding cycle.
  • Charter schools do not take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by APS.
  • There is a constant fear that, at any time, a charter school might be shut down. Charter schools do not necessarily trust the APS administration.
  • APS has not aligned its internal charter school ideology across the many departments in APS. Often statements and directions coming out of APS departments are in conflict with each other.

It was clear that the Task Force members wanted to collaborate much more effectively and build a much stronger relationship between the traditional schools and charter schools. It should also be noted that the Task Force was unanimous in its praise of Alan Mueller, APS Executive Director of Innovation. It was often noted that he was a fair-minded and supportive of the charter school efforts.

Several members of the public attending the meeting voiced their concerns that there were insufficient traditional or charter school parents on the Task Force. Mr. Amos said he would take this under consideration and discuss it further with the Chairman of the Board.

In the next meeting (not yet scheduled), the Task Force will begin considering recommendations to give to the full Board for their consideration.

Of note, this is the first Committee meeting I have attended in which comments from the audience were entertained by the Board members on the Task Force. It was refreshing to see that there was a good conversation between the Task Force and the audience – I wish this would happen far more often in Board Committee and Task Force meetings as the input from the members of the public in attendance was excellent.

Task Force Members

  • BOE member Byron Amos – Chair
  • BOE member Leslie Grant
  • Dr. Cynthia Kuhlman, Chairperson of Drew Charter School
  • Abby Martin, a charter traditional school parent
  • David Jernigan, Executive Director of KIPP Metro Atlanta
  • Matt Underwood, Executive Director of Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (not in attendance, but represented by Suzanne Mitchell)
  • Kelly Cadman, VP of School Services at the Georgia Charter Schools Association
  • Alan Mueller, APS Executive Director of Innovation;
  • Chuck Burbridge, APS CFO (not in attendance due to meeting conflict)
  • David White, APS East Region Executive Director

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8 Responses to APS Charter School Task Force holds meeting – looks to improve relationship between traditional and charter schools

  1. Mary Jo Bryan says:

    Thanks for this informative post! Question–in what charter school does Abby Martin have a child? I know she has children at Grady HS, but didn’t think she had one in a charter school.

  2. Janet Kinard says:

    Hi Robert,

    Just a note: Abby Martin, member of the task force, is not a charter school parent (and never has been). She is Co-President of CINS and the Grady PTSA. She also sits on the Superintendent Search Committee.

    Thanks, Janet Kinard Conversion Manager Centennial Place Academy

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Abby Martin says:

    Bob, correction. I am not a charter parent. I am a traditional public school parent. Abby.

    PS – Regrettably, my work required my presence there due to a mandatory event scheduled last year. I look forward to participating, learning and sharing.

  4. H.A. Hurley says:

    Request for clarification:
    Students with Disabilities, according to your blog, are not being excluded from charters. No selection process to exclude them and no lemon dropping to send them back to APS? Are all APS charters serving ALL Students with Disabilities applying at their schools? Serving all levels of disabilities: Autism, VI, HI, EB/D, MID, SID, SLD, SI OH and others? Or, is there an agreement between APS and the charters, where charters only serve children with Mild Learning Disabilities, and moderate to severe disabilities, along with low incidents children are served in APS? Are there any charters left which Do Not Serve SWD?

    • I think your question is in regards to the following bullet point in the post – “There is a lot of data that indicates certain practices – “cherry picking” & “lemon dropping” are not happening. However, this information is not being adequately disseminated to the public.” This was a paraphrased statement made by Alan Mueller, APS Executive Director of Innovation.

      I personally have never contended at any point that “Students with Disabilities are not excluded from charters” and do not have sufficient information to make the case one way or the other. However, some of my research indicates that the percentage of SWD of the whole student body in charter schools is about half of those in traditional schools (4.2% vs. 2.1%).

      Also, there are some differences in the Disability Category I-V, as follows:
      Cat I Trad-12.4% & Charters 10.5%
      Cat II Trad 11.7% & Charter 2.3%
      Cat III Trad 62.4% & Charter 62.8%
      Cat IV Trad 9.1% & Charter 23.3%
      Cat V Trad 4.4% & Charter 1.2%
      There clearly are some differences, but the most dramatic one is at the Cat IV level with the charters having a much larger percentage. The data is based on the QBE Reports submitted by both APS and the charter schools last May.

      Also, my data indicates that all the charters serve SWD, although the percentage of enrollment varies widely.

      Hope this helps.

      Bob

  5. H.A. Hurley says:

    Bob, thank you. Much appreciated.

    There used to be a couple of charters in APS which did not provide services for SWD, nor accepted them. It was publicly known.

    Much criticism of charters nationally has been about the exclusion of SWD, and the expulsion of SWD, especially minority students with emotional/behavior difficulties.
    Thanks again.

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