A packed room and agenda greeted participants last night at the D.C. Public Charter School Board's monthly meeting. There was much to get done since this was Chairman Brian Jones' last evening in his leadership role so let's get right to it.
Howard Road Academy, an academically low performing charter that was on the path to closure, won a charter amendment to jettison grades one through eight and two campuses to serve pre-school and kindergarten only. It will also dump its Charter Management Organization Mosaica Education. It seems like only yesterday that the William E. Doar, Jr., PCS for the Performing Arts lost a bid to take over the failed Washington Academy PCS to this school.
Imagine Southeast Academy was allowed to escape revocation and continue operating based upon four conditions it agreed to in a deal with the PCSB, the main one being that if the school does not turn around academically it would be given to a high performing operator.
So now we have a new road map for dealing with Tier 3 schools, and it is a concept that I proposed. Either the site is closed or a Tier 1 charter is persuaded to take over its assets. The merger of Septima Clark with Achievement Prep was also approved along these lines. The strategy is a win-win for the local charter school movement. It gets to keep its blossoming population of students while at the same time eliminating those facilities that are diluting overall DC CAS scores.
Rocketship was approved according to the PCSB's expedited review process for experienced operators. There were a couple a nuances to this decision that I didn't pick up when this application was first reviewed. First, the school will be permitted to open a second campus without going to the PCSB for approval. In addition, Rocketship will not start operating until the 2015 school year. It seems it will take them until that time to develop the right school leader and staff. There was visible disappointment by the board on this note, as if delaying a start might jeopardize a final defeat of DCPS.
Much has improved in the operation of the board under the leadership of Mr. Jones. I greatly appreciate the supporting material accessible on-line pertaining to the monthly meeting agenda items. However, other aspects remain annoyingly the same. The public meeting space is way too small. It is tremendously uncomfortable sitting there in a crowd. Much of the goings on is strenuous to hear. And we still have unanimous votes on every issue. It is extremely difficult to understand how this can be the case, especially when you have policy decisions like the one regarding Septima Clark that contained a host of controversial considerations. Let's now see where the regime of Mr. McKoy takes us.