Monday, October 22, 2012

The Opportunity Cost of Chasing Grants

Councilman Sam Zurier:

I am researching the application by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School for "in-district charter" status. I have met with the principal, who explained the gains in autonomy and funding he hopes the school can achieve through this application. I expressed to him my view that it is critical that the school retain its neighborhood identity. I stated that of course everyone would support a neighborhood school with greater resources and autonomy, but it would not be acceptable to trade off one for the other. I introduced a resolution at the City Council stating the view that neighborhood schools are critical to a community's fabric. You can read the resolution by clicking on this link: Neighborhood School Resolution. The entire City Council joined the resolution as co-sponsors. The City Council assigned the resolution to the Education Committee. On November 7, 2012 at 5:45 p.m., the Education Committee will hold a hearing on the subject of "in-district" charter schools. I am hopeful we will be able to obtain more information about this issue by then, if not sooner. In the meantime, I would like to encourage parents in the neighborhood to get more involved on this issue.

I'm ambivalent to mildly supportive regarding the issue of starting some new district charters in the PPSD. On the other hand, if you made a list of 100 education issues for City Council to spend its time studying, whether or not you can create a "neighborhood charter" would be at or near the bottom in terms of usefulness. I see no ambiguity on this issue in RI law or regulation that would suggest that you can have in effect a neighborhood charter, nor do I see any reason that RIDE would allow such a thing. Neither Deb Gist nor the Regents need votes from the East Side.

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