Las Americas ASPIRA Submits Modification Request To Add High School & Increase Enrollment

Rumors began circulating in the fall that Las Americas ASPIRA Academy would be submitting a major modification request to add high school grades.  What I didn’t count on were the huge amount of fallacies and grandiose boasting within the application itself. Continue reading

Sussex Montessori Appears To Be Clueless On Special Education & Basic Charter Formation

Sussex Montessori School went through their first Charter School Accountability Committee meeting in their application process.  I thought for sure, given this was their second attempt to apply for a charter, they would get it right and everything would be smooth sailing.  Instead, their application is missing a lot of information.  The committee smacked them up and down the court.

These are my favorite quotes from the report: Continue reading

Sussex Montessori School Takes 2nd Stab At Application To Delaware DOE, Looking For Fall 2019 Opening

Only one application came in for a new charter school this year in Delaware.  It is the same one that applied last year but that school withdrew their application shortly after.  Sussex Montessori School is going for it again this year.

The proposed school is looking for 260 students in grades K-3 and by year four they are hoping to have 455 students in K-6.  There is only one charter school in Sussex County, Sussex Academy.  There are some very familiar names in their founders list and interested parties with a board consisting of nine people.  It sounds like they have their ducks in a row with this application.

What bothered me about their Executive Summary was this line:

It is clear that the traditional public schools are not working well for many children in Sussex County.

They based this on… what else… standardized test scores.  We will NEVER learn, will we?  This charter school isn’t even open and they are already assuming they can drive those Smarter Balanced test scores up.  I know, whether you agree with this or not, you have to kiss the ring of the Delaware DOE by promising higher achievement on the not-so-Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Shouldn’t there be more to education than this horrible measurement?

Sussex Montessori School does have three enrollment preferences in their application: siblings of students already enrolled, children of staff members, and children of the school’s founders.

The school is projecting a little less than 22% of their funding will come from local school districts for each year they are open.

To read the entire application and all the attachments, please go here.  The leadership team of Sussex Montessori School will have their first meeting with the Delaware Charter School Accountability Committee on January 24th.

 

 

Sussex Montessori School Withdraws Charter Application

Wow! I have been out of the loop!  Sussex Montessori School withdrew their application for their charter school to open up in the 2018-2019 school year.  This happened on January 16th.

It doesn’t look like the Delaware Dept. of Education officially dug into their application because it is not showing any response from the DOE on their website, just the below withdrawal letter.  I am actually surprised at this.  There is only one charter school in Sussex County and there has been a plea from folks like Kendall Massett at the Delaware Charter Schools Network for more charters in lower Delaware.

The letter does indicate they will submit another application in December, 2017 for the 2019-2020 school year.  This is probably the longest stretch where Delaware has not seen any new charter schools.  If their next application gets approved, it would be four years between new charters opening anywhere in the state.  But I would rather see them err on the side of caution and make sure they get it right then rush to opening.  That didn’t work out very well for some charters in recent memory!

Oops! Christina’s NCS Wannabe Middle School Academy Forgot Something BIG In Their Application

chshonorsacademy

Christiana High School wasted no time getting the application for their controversial “Middle School Academy” out to the public.  The board approved this kind-of-magnet school last week with a 5-1 vote.  The program, slated to start next year with 6th graders, seems to love the word rigor.  Many concerned parents in the district have raised serious questions about potential discrimination and what effect this will have on the already existing middle schools in the district.  One commenter on an earlier article I posted about this said “Honors programs should be down the hall.”  I fully agree with this commenter.  I hate the name of this program.  It reeks of elitism and sounds like something it is pretending to be and wants to be, but really shouldn’t.  It sounds really pretentious and sort of obnoxious.  “My child goes to Middle School Academy”… I can hear it already…

The Christiana Middle School Honors Academy requires a high degree of commitment to academic and extra-curricular activities. Our vision offers selected middle school students the opportunity to become academically accomplished, confident, and well-rounded. Selected students will be educated using a rigorous curriculum focused on developing core knowledge, critical thinking and reasoning skills. This will be accomplished by providing each student with a smaller learning community that builds confidence and knowledge which will enhance their individual high school experience.

Aside from the extra-curricular activities, isn’t that what Common Core was supposed to bring to Delaware education to begin with?  Why is this district using the same boring Governor Markell talking points to sell this program?

But in the application, one of the requirements is for the student’s Smarter Balanced scores.  A quarter of the rubric for the application is weighted toward Smarter Balanced scores.  But here is the elephant in the room… what if the student was opted out of Smarter Balanced by their parents?  Christina has a board policy which states no student shall be penalized if they are opted out of the wretched test.  But this application says nothing about that or gives any indication they would change the formula in that situation.  This could cause students or parents who opted their child out to not apply because of the absence of this information.  As well, who is determining what the placement test will look like?  Has this been approved by the Christina Board of Education?  Is this test used by other schools?  Has this test been vetted and verified for its effectiveness?  If the parent statement is not a part of the rubric, why are they requiring it with the application?  Does the parent statement have any weight on the decision of placement?  Is there a panel who approves the application or just a principal?  What are the qualifications of whoever approves the applications?

Yeah, let’s throw some more controversy gas on an already raging fire!

Delaware College Prep & Delaware Military Academy Also Up For Charter Renewal…Will Delaware College Prep Survive?

Charter Schools authorized by the Red Clay Consolidated School District go through charter renewals, modifications, and formal reviews through Red Clay, not the Delaware Department of Education.  Both Delaware Military Academy and Delaware College Prep are up for charter renewal this year.  Delaware College Prep was in the news very recently when the State Auditor found some financial abuse going on by the school leader.  Kilroy’s Delaware has raised several red flags about this school in the past six months.  They are also on probation status based on their formal review last year for academic performance.  Here is their charter renewal application:

And the exhibits and other information that are mentioned in the application can be found here:

Interesting that they have no parent representative on their school board as of October 1st, but they are “actively looking”.  Here is the agenda for this portion of the Red Clay Consolidated Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, 10/21/15:

Last year, we saw Moyer and Reach Academy close.  Two years before that, Pencader Business School closed.  Will we have two more Delaware charters close this  year?  Delaware College Prep and The Delaware Met?  And what will fill the void?  New charter applications in Wilmington have a moratorium until at least 2017.  What I can see is more charters submitting modification requests to increase their enrollment.  In the meantime, keep an eye out on Delaware College Prep.  Just because the DOE doesn’t cover this is not an indicator that Red Clay won’t hold them accountable.  I would love to see their reaction to the State Auditor report!

Delaware MET Charter School Performance Fund Application

I love when schools that aren’t even open yet apply for a performance fund!  Because they have so much data to show they can even perform…

The Delaware MET is scheduled to open August 2015.  So I’m guessing they need more money…

While I don’t really have a problem with what Delaware MET is asking for, why would they wait until a few months before they open to institute such a high-caliber part of their curriculum as part of a performance fund they may or may not receive?  If they don’t get this funding, what happens to this program? No internships for these kids?

Campus Community School Charter School Performance Fund Application

The Delaware DOE, in conjunction with the Charter School Office, offers eligible charter schools in the state to apply for the Charter School Performance Fund.  The DOE is stating this is allocated at $1.5 million to divvy up between the charters, but state lawmakers put $1 million in the budget for it.  We will find out tomorrow or Wednesday what the true amount is.  With that being said, ten charter schools have applied.

What they are applying for will be covered.  We are starting with Campus Community School in Dover, DE, and this will include their written narrative as well as their budget:

Campus Community School has some good ideas.  They want to launch “Project Inspire” to help at-risk kids.  They want to make their library more digital, and hire someone to staff that.  A Saturday initiative sounds promising.  They want to add Communities In Schools full-time for a mentoring program at $43,000.  Wait a minute…

If Communities In Schools was part-time this year, and they want this for full-time, why have they paid them $61,000 for the first eleven months of this fiscal year?  I’m a little bit confused here…

COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS

CAMPUS COMMUNITY SCHOOL 11/25/2014 $13,750.00 0000890314
COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS CAMPUS COMMUNITY SCHOOL 10/28/2014 $13,750.00 0000873161
COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS CAMPUS COMMUNITY SCHOOL 1/13/2015 $3,000.00 0000911629
COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS CAMPUS COMMUNITY SCHOOL 1/13/2015 $13,750.00 0000911629
COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS CAMPUS COMMUNITY SCHOOL 9/26/2014 $3,000.00 0000856654
COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS CAMPUS COMMUNITY SCHOOL 3/13/2015 $13,750.00 0000940811

There is some very fuzzy math going on there. Unless Communities In Schools is providing some other type of program for the school that we aren’t aware of here…

If I were the Charter School Office, I would want this very important question answered before I approve this application.

While traditional public school districts are being forced to cut library specialists, charters can just apply for one through this performance fund.  No bias there!  As well, let it be known Campus Community School received over $300,000 the past two fiscal years in what I call the “Charter School Transportation Slush Fund” where Delaware charters get to keep the extra money from their transportation budget if their bus bids are below budget…