Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting Ahead of the Next Mayoral Academy Proposal

I need to write this down before I move these mayoral academy (MA) issues out of active memory for the next six months or so. Basically these are the points which need to be made to RIDE, the Regents, the Governor and relevant mayors prior to the next round of proposals:

  • RIDE has to follow the law and their own regulations and require complete, valid bylaws be included in any proposal.
  • The proposal should clearly be in the voice and from the point of view of the proposed charter holder, not the management agency, since the management agency may leave shortly after the charter is granted (as happened at Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP)).
  • The proposal should adhere to whatever the best practices are for government contracting and oversight, which I'm pretty sure doesn't include things like letting the contractor recommend the members of the board of directors.
  • Any mayoral academy should include more than two municipalities (as is the case currently at BVP). As the Governor noted, a two-district MA puts extra financial burden on the sending towns. Also, as I've noted, it is simply unstable, since there are only two people who can chair the board, and if they both decline (and they may have clear incentives to do so), the school closes.
  • The proposal should include statements of support from the mayor and/or municipal governments of each sending municipality.
  • The board of directors should be made up of equal numbers of representatives from each participating municipality, through a selection process that includes the mayor, municipal government and/or other elected officials in some clearly specified way (as is the case currently at BVP).
  • The targeted poverty rate for the MA should be equal to the combined poverty rate of all sending districts (like BVP). The purpose of urban/suburban collaboration is not to give poor suburban youth the opportunity to experience the isolation of urban poverty.

These points are completely in line with the design and apparent intent of the original law.

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