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EdisonLearning dismissed; mission statement under review; summer arts camp seeks funds

Starting with the next school year Andrew H. Wilson Charter School will handle all educational services in-house rather than use EdisonLearning Inc., the for-profit company that has performed that role for the past five years.

The shift has been under discussion by the board since it was first proposed in December by principal Logan Crowe.

At their March 28 monthly meeting, board members said they were impressed with the detailed plan that Crowe and a “leadership team” of teachers and staff put together.

“I can say with full confidence they can take this on,” board member David Winkler-Schmit said. The board voted unanimously to drop EdisonLearning. Members Sharon Hyde-Augillard and Nancy Marshall were absent for the vote.

Board members will know more about how Crowe’s performance is viewed by his staff when teachers fill out a comprehensive Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership survey rating his effectiveness as a leader. Board members were briefed on what the survey will assess.

Dropping EdisonLearning is one of several pending changes, including revisions to the school’s teacher and student handbooks, board contracts, and the school’s mission statement.

Staff and community members will meet to come up with a new mission statement. “We need to find one that’s unique to us,” board member Latoya Cantrell said.

In a briefing on the school’s audit, finance committee chair Krystina Jones said Wilson might be slightly in the red at the end if the school year, but could break even.

On student achievement, Scott Flowers, with EdisonLearning, reported that student scores have increased marginally from the previous month.

With just a few weeks until the standardized state LEAP test, Flowers reported that 60 percent of students are at the benchmark level in reading, 53 percent are at benchmark in math and 62 percent are at benchmark in language arts.

Trouble spots are third-, seventh- and eighth-grade math, Flowers said.

Crowe said the board shouldn’t expect the growth in student scores that it’s seen over the past five years.

“Scores are going to be different,” Crowe said, noting for example that the eighth grade has doubled in size. But “are we going to show growth? Yes,” He said

On the staffing front, Crowe contended that, with over 100 employees, the school needs a director of human resources, a job that has been handled by EdisonLearning.

Jones agreed: “There’s enough staff here (that) we could put ourselves in a bad situation,” she said. “We don’t want to leave ourselves open to a lawsuit.”

The board tabled a motion to make the hire until information is gathered about the  job’s responsibilities.

In other business, the board and school staff are looking for ways to raise money for its arts-focused summer camp. The school has created an online page to kick-start the drive for individual donors.

This is the first year the school will fund the camp rather than rely on a grant. Emily Wolff, the school’s director of community integration, said it costs $420 per student, and the school plans to enroll 100 students.

The board also voted to seat community member Duane Nettles. The next meeting will be April 27.

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