Friday, October 21, 2011

Step One, Meet the Legal Definition of a Mayoral Academy

RI Law (find it yourself):

A “mayoral academy” means a charter school created by a mayor of any city or town within the State of Rhode Island, acting by or through a nonprofit organization established for said purpose (regardless of the time said nonprofit organization is in existence), which enrolls students from more than one city or town including both urban and non-urban communities and which offers an equal number of enrollments to students on a lottery basis; provided, further, that such mayoral academies shall have a board of trustees or directors which is comprised of representatives from each included city or town and is chaired by a mayor of an included city or town. (emphasis mine)

Draft of New AFMA Application, Part XVI:

It is important to note that this application does not have a set number of seats per community;

If there is a way to reconcile those two statements, I don't know what it is. It is not the way RIMA approaches it at Blackstone Valley Prep. In fact, AF made the same mistake last time, RIDE didn't pick it up and after I pointed it out RIDE allowed them to make the change to their application during the public comment period to correct the error (the change was clearly noted on the RIDE site). If RIDE disagrees with the straightforward interpretation of the law, why would they have thought it was so important to fix the last proposal?

This of course has a huge impact on both the likely cost of the school to Providence and the role of the suburban districts in terms of need, demand and cost. Does Providence send 25% or more than 50%? Does N. Prov send 25% or 5%?

The thing is, Achievement First has absolutely no interest in running a 3/4 suburban school. It makes no sense. It is not what they do. Their application shows no interest whatsoever in the issue of creating an urban/suburban diverse school community. So they keep trying to weasel out of it.

One thing that is going to be important this time around is making it clear to the Governor and friendly Regents that it is absolutely essential that, if this school goes through, the continuing participation of the suburban communities play a significant role in evaluating the school, renewing its charter and expanding or contracting. If the suburbs walk away (parents don't apply, RIMA and AF don't bother recruiting) Providence should not be stuck with two schools sized for four districts (let alone two more middle schools and a high school).

If AF just wants to open a charter school for Providence, they can open an independent or even a district charter. It is much simpler than this mayoral academy nonsense.

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