Creating a charter school

by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, March 2005) Two Clark Elementary School teachers, Mark Franklin and John Chesney, are looking for fellow teachers and administrators who are interested in exploring the idea of setting up a charter school. They are asking educators to attend a meeting with Dr. Jen Mantilla of the Community Schools Office of the Ohio Department of Education to learn how to go about setting up a charter school. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 23 at 4:30 PM at Johnny’s Downtown’s upstairs room at 1406 W. 6th Street.

Franklin says he hopes to attract other interested education professionals to the meeting to learn about charter schools. He hopes to emerge from the meeting with a group that will continue to communicate with each other via email about the possibility of starting a charter school. He says the “political and educational landscape has changed.”  He hopes his fellow teachers will look at the change and see it is “no threat” and in fact “creates opportunity.”

Franklin says he would like to convince fellow members of the Cleveland Teachers Union and other local education professionals to find a new way of “educating Cleveland’s children in the classroom.”

Franklin believes that by setting up a non-profit corporation, Cleveland educators could continue to pay themselves Teachers Union level salaries and still have money left over to plough back into new educational programs that are not now offered.

He says each school would get the state per capita allocation per pupil. It would go directly to the school. (Editor’s note: The state allocation in 2005 was $5,169 per pupil. The governor proposes a 3% increase in FY 2006 to $5,328.)

Charter schools are an increasingly important part of the educational picture in Ohio. At the February 8th Cleveland Board of Education meeting, CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett said the Big Eight school systems in Ohio have lost 42,000 students to charter schools.

The February/March issue of Catalyst Cleveland reports: “According to district officials, over 8,000 students who live in the Cleveland Municipal School District currently attend one of 38 charter schools in Cuyahoga County, the publicly funded schools that operate independent of school districts. The number is expected to rise to more than 10,000 by 2007.”

Under the House Bill 364 that created the charter schools, private, nonprofit, and public agencies can run charter schools. By exploring the idea early, Franklin says, “I can’t see a downside for teachers, schools or the Cleveland Teachers Union (CTU).”

Franklin says the CTU has also scheduled an informational meeting for its members on charter schools on March 15th at 4 PM.


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