Saturday, October 29, 2011

Charter Schools: The Tale of Many Cities

This week Florida Senator David Simmons, chair of the PreK-12 Budget subcommittee, commented at a recent meeting that charter failures in the state are worrisome. Simmons had this to say:
“The finanical impact is great,” he said. “Some of them are failing, and that’s a financial issue…Those that are failing are costing not only a human toll but a financial one.”

Some examples that may have crossed Simmons desk include:

The Miami-Herald reported that two Miami-Dade charter schools, the Academy of Arts and Minds and the Balere Language Academy, were shut down last week.

Many parents have been complaining that The Academy of Arts and Minds the school did not have enough books or teachers when school started in August. Parents have also complained about the school’s governing board decision-making, when the decided to hire the charter founder and landlord, Alonso-Poch, to also be "the school’s manager under a $90,000 no-bid contract." The chairwoman of the school’s board did not vote in this decision; however, Ruth “Chuny” Montaner is Alonso-Poch’s cousin.

Balere Language Academy troubles include a pending foreclosure lawsuit on its school building, $136,000 in outstanding debts, including $99,000 owed to a previous landlord, and is "under investigation after advertisements surfaced indicating that the school was being used as an adult-themed nightclub on the weekends. The school’s principal, Rocka Malik, has denied that the school was doubling as a club — though a phone number on the ads comes back to her husband’s business.

A West Melbourne charter school is in danger of closing due to poor performance. The charter's parent management company has sent $1 million to keep the school going and redirected to improvement. Nevertheless, parents have been pulling their children out of the school. A Florida Today article reviews the rather interesting real estate purchases and sales that has flowed into the investment. Two Imagine Charter schools, located in North Lauderdale, are also failing as identified in an investigative report by Scathing Purple Musings. This report revealed that 15 of 31 "F" schools in Florida are charters. Imagine Schools CEO Dennis Bakke was on Governor Scott's education transition team.

As charter applications are on the rise, Simmons interest is timely. Such events are not limited to Florida.

Who pays? Who benefits?

No comments:

Post a Comment