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NET Charter preps for state’s new charter school accountability project

Recovery School District officials last week visited the board that oversees NET Charter High School to explain a new charter school accountability process.

RSD representatives are planning a March 27 walk-through at the alternative school as part of the new Charter School Performance Compact process, an attempt by the state to give charter schools clear information about what is expected of them.

The visit, RSD director of school performance Patrick Walsh said during the NET board’s Feb. 26 meeting, is intended to give district officials “a brief snapshot, an accurate picture, and pulse of the school.”

The compact lists as its objective, “To provide charter school operators and boards with clear expectations, fact-based oversight, and timely feedback while ensuring charter autonomy.”

RSD Manager of School Performance Brandie Burris updated the board and school leaders on the district’s efforts to create different ways of grading alternative schools like NET and said that the latest something would be in place is “sometime in the next school year.”

“Our intention is to develop an additional progress report,” Burris said. “We’ve recognized that the way we look at high schools’ academic performance lumps all schools together. We’re hoping to rewrite policy to more clearly define an alternative school designation.”

NET Principal Elizabeth Ostberg has been working on the issue with similar alternative schools in the area, and gave the group’s written suggestions to Burris for consideration.

Burris said that while they are looking at other states’ policies, the existing school performance score system is something federally required of the RSD, and will remain in place for alternative schools, but that RSD officials hope to find flexibility within it.

Walsh asked board members for more time to figure things out. “We understand the F school performance score looks bad, but we will not be shutting down alternative schools,” he said.

Updated performance scores will come out in October, and Ostberg said that while NET Charter School will receive an “F”, school leadership needs to make sure families understand what that means, and make it clear to them that the school is not closing.

NET’s charter extension assessment is in 2015. The school had 156 students as of their Feb. 1 count conducted by the state.

Troave’ Profice, manager of school performance with the RSD, explained a new system being used by the district called the “Intervention Ladder.” The system is designed to monitor schools’ organizational and financial performance.

All schools begin outside the ladder in “good standing.” The three levels that follow are a “notice of concern,” “notice of breach” and “revocation review.”

A “notice of concern” is sent to a school with “specific action and due dates required to remedy the concern.” If the problem is not fixed, schools move to a “notice of breach.” If it is cleared, the school returns to “good standing.”

The final level puts schools at “risk of contract revocation.” Additional school visits and audits are the potential actions named by the district.

“We will always communicate with you before a notice is sent, and clearly tell you how to address things,” Profice said.

Walsh said that notices will be sent “conservatively.”

Within the Intervention Ladder system there is also a list of Critical Indicators that immediately earn a school a Notice of Breach.

A discriminatory admissions process, not meeting local and state fire and life safety codes, failing to conduct background checks on all employees, and failing to identify at-risk students within special education are some of the 12 critical issues.

Present at the Feb. 26 meeting were board members Michelle Brown, Marshall Fitz, Gary Howarth, Chris Kaul, Kristina Kent, Melissa Lessell and Brett Hunt an accountant with FirstLine Schools.

The next scheduled board meeting is March 26 at 6 p.m.

 

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