Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Now the board and school enter negotiations

In an unanimous decision Wednesday, Jan. 22, the Corbett School Board voted to renew the Corbett Charter School for a period of five to 10 years.

But Wednesday’s public hearing was just the beginning.

The directors heard an earful from parties on either side of the charter school divide.

The decision to renew was based on five criteria through House Bill 2875. Now the parties enter a 90-day period in which the district and charter school negotiate a new charter agreement.

If the board had voted against renewing the school, the charter could have appealed to the state, which could have overruled the district board and sponsored the charter renewal.

April Eaton, a concerned citizen, read a definition for the word “respect” and told directors she believed the charter school and its leaders had showed a lack of respect and goodwill to other district teachers and students. She said she didn’t believe students in the district were treated equitably with district resources.

“Animosity has emerged,” Eaton said. “(The charter school) was a financial asset, but it’s become a social loss in many ways and I do not support its renewal.”

Others, like Marguerite Perry, said they saw the charter school as a benefit to the district.

“I thought it saved our bacon when interdistrict transfers had been cut off,” Perry said.

“I was happy to see it come in and I want Corbett to remain an independent district.”

Audience members also expressed concerns about the district’s growth, separating charter students from students in traditional Corbett classrooms and the charter’s business model within the district.

Several charter school parents, such as Cynthia Dove, expressed their passion for the charter school.

“My son is at the charter school after going to Reynolds,” Dove said. “I’m pleased and honored to have him here. He can play basketball here, which he’d never be able to at Reynolds.”

Dove said she hoped the charter school would continue in the future.

Some audience members, such as Rene Sumpter Smith, were surprised to hear of the supposed charter school divisiveness among students and teachers.

“I’m a bit surprised by the intensity of conflict between the district and charter and wondered if there has been anything done to repair or work on relationships,” she said.

One audience member expressed concern over what would happen if the charter school moved locations within the 5-10 year contract and what that impact would be on the district.

Superintendent Randy Trani and Board Chairman Charlie O’Neil said these types of questions would be addressed at future meetings, amid charter agreement negotiations.

The renewal is effective July 1, 2014.

The board was asked to evaluate the charter’s request for renewal based on five criteria through House Bill 2875:

n Whether the charter was in compliance with this bill and all applicable state and federal laws;

n Whether it was in compliance with the charter of the public charter school;

n Whether it met or was working toward meeting the student performance goals and agreement specified in the charter or any other written agreements between the sponsor and the public charter school governing body;

n Whether it was fiscally stable and had used sound financial management; and,

n Whether it was in compliance with any renewal criteria specified in the charter of the public school.

A town hall meeting about Corbett schools will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Corbett Grange.

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