Friday, September 21, 2012

In-District Charter Questions, Take 3

During the past week, I have been in conversation with other parents, students, community members, and PPSD staff members. These conversations have refined the questions that feel important about the district's ongoing move toward implementing in-district charters.

I post these in the spirit of collaborations and have shared them with district staff members who are working on communicating about this work to the public. Please add your own questions and thoughts in the comments. Thanks!


What are PPSD's specific motivations for introducing in-district charters?

What specific opportunities will in-district charter schools have that they do not have now that are likely to improve teaching, learning, and student achievement?

Why is the implementation of the in-district charter school application process happening so rapidly? What has the timeline been and what will be the implementation timeline moving forward?

What is the decision-making process within the district? Who decides which schools submit charter applications to RIDE? How is that decided and what are the criteria? When is that decided?

What kind of support services is the district offering schools that it selects to submit applications to RIDE?

What about other schools that the district is not supporting? Are they still able to submit applications ahead of the March 2013 deadline?

Parent and Family Involvement
What is the specific plan and timeline for parent/family involvement in terms of finding out more about their school’s involvement with the in-district charter school application process?

In those schools that are moving forward with in-district charter applications, what is the plan and process for family members to join and meaningfully contribute to school-based planning teams?

In those schools that are moving forward with in-district charter applications, what is the plan and process for high school students to join and meaningfully contribute to school-based planning teams?

What are the specific requirements for parent votes? What is the mechanism of the vote - is it 50 percent of parents/family members who show up for a meeting or 50 percent of all parents/family members? How will their votes be collected and recording confidentially and reliably?

When in the process does the parent/family vote occur?  Does it happen before, simultaneous with, or after the faculty vote?

Student Assignment
How will student assignment work at these schools? Do they become schools that have no neighborhood zone and to which any student in the district can apply? Or will the in-district charter schools remain neighborhood schools per current PPSD student assignment policies?

Will students who are currently assigned to schools that become in-district charter schools remain in their schools? 

Governance and Autonomy
What will be the governance structure for these in-district charters? Will they have their own boards or be part of PPSD and the Providence School Board?

Will the in-district charters continue to participate in district contracts with vendors or will they be responsible for their own food, maintenance, etc.?

Will the in-district charters be responsible for identifying and maintaining their own facilities at some point in the future?

Teachers and Other Staff Members
How will the teachers of these in-district charters be represented by the Providence Teachers Union? Will they negotiate individual school-based contracts with the district?

Will teacher assistants and other school staff members continue to be represented by their unions? Will those contracts be renegotiated if their schools convert to in-district charters?

Will teachers who currently work at schools that convert to in-district charter schools remain teachers at those schools?

Which organizations responded to the RFP? Were they all invited to the partner fair that happened on September 13? 

What are the criteria and standards for partners? What guidelines to they have to follow?

Will there be more opportunity for more partners to join? If so, when and how?

What are PPSD's plans for sharing information on an ongoing basis that clearly briefs the public on this process?

Is it possible to use any of the funds available for charter school implementation to support an aggressive media campaign to inform and engage parents in this process?  
Legislation and Funding
Will the district be seeking variances to existing charter school legislation? To which aspects of the legislation and on what timeline?

What happens when current federal funding runs out? If and when that happens, will additional schools have the opportunity to become in-district charter schools?
 What amount of the available federal charter school funds will be allocated to the approved schools?  

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