Einstein Charter School’s progress in educating its least proficient students resulted in the highest possible School Performance Score bonus, principal and CEO Shawn Toranto said at a board meeting Tuesday.
The Louisiana Department of Education awards an SPS rating annually to each public school and provides bonus points based on the amount of academically struggling students who meet or exceed expectations as determined by an algorithm. The SPS resembles a traditional letter grade format in its scale from A through F.
Einstein Charter School earned a B for the 2012-2013 school year.
“Top gains 2 years in a row – that’s an honor,” Toranto said, adding that the score reflects the hardworking support that the English language learner and special education departments provide for special-needs children.
Earlier in the meeting, board member Lauren Narcisse announced that the academic committee had decided to move a part-time reading specialist to full-time and add one additional English language learner staff member.
Ron Midkiff, a former Einstein administrator and author of the school’s original charter, struck a more somber note amid the laudatory academic progress update. He warned that going forward, Einstein Charter School’s annual testing scores would be combined with Einstein Extension, the charter school it took over last fall previously known as Intercultural Charter School.
Responding, Toranto said, “We are well aware that our SPS score might dip – [the board] all agreed that it’s best to educate our children rather than worry about [the SPS score]… We’re absolutely confident in our abilities to turn around the other school.”
“If it takes 2 years, 3 years – I think our community understands, and our children deserve it.”
After the meeting, Midkiff said the move to merge the two campuses into one school for SPS scoring purposes, while potentially hiding the gains of Einstein Charter School specifically, was necessary in order to fast-track the acquisition of the new Einstein Extension.
Also in the meeting, the board unanimously approved a self-evaluation survey to be completed by all board members, and moved to join the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools. The cost of joining LAPCS is approximately $2,500, or $5 per student based on last year’s enrollment numbers.
Ryan Bennett, who recommended that the board join, led a discussion of the potential membership benefits to Einstein. The association offers cohort groups for board members’ professional development, legislative services, public relations and a “board bank” wherein association staff identifies, recruits and trains potential charter school board members.
“One of our priorities is to grow and diversify our board,” Bennett said.
Melanie Pittman, a parent of two students at Einstein Charter School, was unanimously added to the agenda to discuss the building infrastructure issues that she said were hampering the health of her children.
“I feel that funds were not distributed properly to our charter school,” Pittman said, listing necessary repairs to the school’s water fountains, bathrooms and kitchens that are yet to be complete.
Board members listened sympathetically and expressed appreciation to Pittman for her efforts; Toranto said the school’s kitchen is slated to undergo a full renovation by this June.
Present at the meeting were board members Emily Danielson, Donnica Conway, Dan Davis, Laurin Jacobsen, Bennett, Pittman and Midkiff. Douglas Guidry was absent. The meeting was called to order at 6:06 pm and adjourned at 6:54 pm.