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RSD says charter renewal seems likely, provided special-ed issues are overcome

Correction: The headline has been revised: the word renewal replaces extension. Another change is marked in the seventh paragraph.

The board of Miller-McCoy Academy met Monday night with a representative of the Recovery School District to discuss the future of the school’s charter. Adam Hawf, the deputy superintendent of the state’s “Type 5” charters reviewed the areas of assessment facing the school and gave board members an idea of what to expect over the next several months.

Hawf said that schools are granted an extension based on site visits, academic and financial performance, and contractual stability. The RSD will make a recommendation to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which will decide whether to extend the school’s charter and for how long. Extensions can range from three to 10 years based on performance evaluations.

The review looks at the school’s state-assigned performance score, which reflects standardized test results and rates of graduation, attendance, and dropping-out. Last year, Miller-McCoy scored 71.2 – equivalent to a D letter grade. That qualifies the school for  a possible three-year extension, but rules out automatic renewal.

Hawf pointed out that the charter is also ineligible for automatic renewal due to the ongoing “dialogue” on its financial status, the result of first-year deficit spending and some tardy financial reporting.

“Deficit spending is not unusual in new schools,” Hawf said, and noted a recent change in the guidelines that ensures a school’s most recent financial data is used. “I think this way it’s more fair, more accurate,” he said.

Miller-McCoy is finishing the year with a 5-to-7 percent surplus and a clean audit.

Hawf said that the RSD was “very, very positive” about the school facilities on a recent site visit, but will be providing a report outlining areas of the special-education program that need to be upgraded before the next semester begins.

Middle-school principal Tiffany Hardrick said there will be an influx of special-education students, bringing the total from 67 this year to 80 for the 2012-2013 school year.

Reporting for the facilities committee, Nat Jones said he had attended two recent meetings to discuss the school’s future campus. One meeting with the RSD showed that none of the requested additions had been made to the school plan, which principals felt was too small. The second meeting included members of the community, one of whom criticized the school’s exterior design.

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