Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Edison School Denied Charter Renewal

Rachel Norton is reporting on her blog today that, last night, the SFUSD Board denied a charter renewal application to Edison School. There's a chance the K thru 8 may be able to appeal this successfully to the state authorities (which is what the charter had done before), but Rachel noted that doing so is no longer a "slam dunk" because of recent changes in the officials running the state authority. We had looked at it in our quest for a smaller K through 8 that takes special ed kids, and, while we ultimately decided against it, we always had it in the back of our minds as a "last ditch" alternative, should we be unhappy with what we got in the public school lottery and not get into the new Gateway Middle school. Now there's a tortured history to the school, since it had been part of the for-profit Edison school chain, but last year it had broken off from that and has been reconstituting itself as a community-based group. When we saw it this Fall, we got the feeling that things were turning around there, with new management and a fresh perspective. We thought it might be a great school to be starting out in K, particularly with its wonderful location in Noe Valley and its focus on arts. We also really think that San Francisco needs more public small K through 8's, so we liked it as a possible alternative. So, we thought we should report on this to the blog, and, without starting the whole charter debate again, are wondering what folks think of this development. -- Joseph

6 comments:

  1. I was curious about this school and talked with the staff at the enrollment fair. They said that the previous management company (also named Edison) "kept them poor" and presented them with a large bill when they didn't renew the management contract. That was negotiated down.

    So I toured it with a friend in November. Here are my notes:

    Nice Old School facility w/ up to date resources. Good & energetic staff & teachers. Students were engaged & attentive. A variety of programs, including dance & PE. 4 K classes w/ 20 (not 22) students. Runs thru 8th grade. Separate bathrooms and schedules for K-1s (also called Junior Academy). Very Latino w/ little neighborhood attendance (several commute in from the Central Valley). Immersion included (just check a box). Very simple application process run by school office. Now self-managed, so it's no longer associated with the (somewhat tainted) national management company with the same name.

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  2. I am curious as to why their application was denied. Rachel's post said the deficiencies in the application were revealed in Budget Committee, so it sounds like it was due to poor finances. I wonder how long it will take to determine whether the school will be granted a State charter for next year. How will the District deal with placing kids in alternative schools should Edison need to close its doors?

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  3. Such a bummer. We have a friend with kids there who is very happy -- they escaped a low-performing public. I hope they can figure out how to keep the school going.

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  4. Hi Bloggers-
    Please allow me to clarify our present circumstances. Our charter petition was rejected due to incomplete budgetary information. The irony is that the district charter school contact knew we would be unable to provide them with a full budgetary picture in December, the deadline to submit our petition, and told us not to worry, that we would be given a 'budget review committee' date to answer any and all questions. We actually had a curriculum hearing 30 minutes prior to the budget hearing in which we were allowed to present all information on our curriculum program and answer all questions. However, when we began the budget hearing, and stood up to pass out our budgetary materials that we had been told to prepare and bring- suddenly the new SFUSD lawyer informed us that we would not be able to present the additional materials. Since we had not anticipated any issues we did not bring our own lawyer and had no way to refute her decision. So, long and short-- our curriculum hearing went wonderfully and we were given complete compliments, our budget hearing was cut short because we were unable to hand out the necessary documents. Commissioner Maufas was incredibly supportive (as were all of the Commissioners except Commissioner Wynns- long term charter opposition), and Commissioner Maufas came to talk to us after the Board voted against our petition, promising to come by and visit our school. She lives in the neighborhood, and has heard the good news of change. Interestingly, we did get to make public comment, in which we pointed out our API of 10 out of 10 for similar schools, our 98% teacher retention rate, etc. All things that certainly would provide a great school addition to SFUSD. Many commissioners spoke in favor of the school, expressing regret that we were unable to present our financial documentation. FYI- we have a 5 year forecast which clearly shows our financial wellness including a healthy reserve. So, as the school did 5 years ago, we are on our way to present our petition to the state, and according to our state evaluation team who visited our campus last week, they see no reason why we would not have our charter renewed. Just recently Mission Prep was denied by SFUSD, then approved by the CDE; SF Flex High School was rejected by SFUSD, then approved by the CDE. We have a current enrollment of 514 happy kids with loyal families, and will continue to provide a quality education for all of them- as well as our new applicants for next year. Thank you, and please get in touch if you have any questions.
    Best-
    Adrienne Morrell, Executive Director
    amorrell@edisoncharteracademy.com
    (again, pls excuse any typos- it's late, I'm tired!)

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  5. Adrienne -- thanks for that reply. As I noted in my initial comment, the school is also very open to special ed kids, and that's another big plus for it. May I ask when you think there will be a final decision from the state board to approve your charter?

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  6. Joseph,
    We have submitted our response to the CDE and await the dates of Board review. I'll post all dates here as we get them. We just had our visit on Feb. 8th and 9th from our CDE authorization and compliance folks who come to the school- do a lot of interviews and data checking to make sure we are doing things right. They left with great feedback and assured us that we are looking better than ever. Good luck with your quest. I'm sure you'll find exactly the right place for your child. The search is long but SF residents are fortunate to have many choices.
    Best-
    Adrienne

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