Andrew H. Wilson Charter School’s contract with Edison Learning Systems has been extended only to the end of the current school year, leaving open the possibility that at their next meeting board members will vote to permanently sever the five-year relationship with the for-profit service provider.
The half-year extension of a modified contract with Edison was the key development at the Nov. 29 monthly meeting of the Broadmoor Charter School Board, which runs Wilson.
Edison has been providing Wilson with common core standards, staff hiring and development, literacy help and interventionists, student assessments and special-education services.
Principal Logan Crowe recommended a different educational plan to the board for the 2012-13 school year: use in-house staff and local external agencies to prepare and test students, evaluate teachers and hire support staff to meet new grade-level standards mandated by 2014.
If board members approve an alternative plan, Wilson would be the last school in the state to sever ties with Edison, Edison spokesperson Michael Serpe confirmed.
Crowe’s alternative calls for contracting with SUNS center for help with at-risk students, and the Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools for legal services, accounting, facilities consulting and some staff development.
Board members praised Crowe’s recommendations and the plan had the support of Wilson teachers in attendance.
“It gives us a lot of power to look at what we’re doing, how we’re doing and plan what we’re going to do based on the strengths we have already,” said Avis Flynn, a fourth-grade math teacher.
Board member Santiago Burgos added, “It’s a great idea to channel resources in that direction.”
Scott Flowers, Edison’s vice president of education services, said after the meeting that Edison will prepare its own proposal for board consideration.
Board members at past meetings acknowledged that Edison was instrumental in opening Wilson in 2007, by agreeing to partner with the school for no pay until the school attracted funding.
Marie Weatherspoon, Wilson’s behavior interventionist, was among those who said it was probably time to make a change.
“Edison took us and opened us up five years ago and I think they did a fantastic job. Do I feel the same way now? I’m kind of 50-50 on that,” Weatherspoon said during pubic comments. “I’d like to see what the administrative cost is for them. Are there things we don’t need Edison to do for us anymore?”
In extending the Edison contract until June 30, the board insisted on a new provision whereby it will pay Edison for services on an as-needed basis.
“This for us is a natural progression,” said Board President LaToya Cantrell. “It’s a different environment than we were operating in 2007.”
Cantrell said the school has paid Wilson $300,000 for its services: $250,000 for fees and $50,000 for “transitional services.”
In other business, board members expressed optimism that Wilson’s charter will be renewed, given the 11-point jump in the school’s performance score. A decision from the state is expected by early December.
The next board meeting is set for Dec. 14 at 6:30 in the school cafeteria.