Wednesday, August 31, 2011

RttT Waiver Clears Way for Mayoral Academy Delay (?!?!)

Ann Whalen, Director, Policy and Program Implementation, Implementation and Support Unit, United States Dept. of Education, August 23, 2011 (via):

For the High-Performing Charter Schools project, award grants to recruit high-performing charter schools and promote expansion of existing high-performing charter schools in years 2-4 instead of years 1-2. In year 1, Rhode Island has worked to recruit out-of-state and in-state providers, but proposes to conduct the competitive application process and award grants starting in year 2. Charter management organizations (CMOs) have indicated that the original timeframe did not provide the CMOs sufficient time to create their plans and submit grant applications. In addition, award four grants of $250,000 each instead of two grants of $500,000 each. This adjustment in approach reflects a revised cost estimate and the State’s belief that offering a greater number of grants will ultimately raise student achievement in the State by allowing for a larger number of seats in high-performing charter schools.

The Department approves this request with the requirement that the State submits to the Department by September 9, 2011 an assurance that: (a) the State will make at least one charter school grant for either recruitment of a high-performing charter school or expansion of an existing high-performing charter school by school year 2012-13, and (b) that at least one new high-performing charter school will open no later than school year 2013-14. As discussed with the State by phone, for the purposes of this grant, expansion of an existing high-performing charter school will be defined as opening a new campus or serving a significant number of new students. This means that, for example, expanding to new grades without adding new students would not be considered expansion.

By my layman's reading, this says it is ok for the regents to vote "no" on AFMA this year.

Even if it means they come back with a stronger proposal next year that is approved, a well-planned and executed mayoral academy would be much better (for the kids!) than the half-assed deal they've tried to push this year.

Later... It does kind of blow your mind when you read a high-level official communique like this outlining rules for the disposition of millions of dollars, and you see just how vague it all is. Does a) mean you have to recruit a school to be opened in 2012-2013 or planned in 2012-2013 for opening in 2013-2014? If the former, why do you need a waiver? What was the plan?

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