Sunday, August 06, 2000

Several charter schools will wait

5 of 11 applicants to open this fall

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Only five of 11 new charter schools that applied to open in Cincinnati this fall will do so, with the rest having to wait because they couldn't find an adequate facility in time.

        This year, the state implemented a June 15 deadline to secure a facility for the first time in the three-year history of the movement. Charter, or community schools, are run with state education funds but by private boards independent of local public school districts.

        Ohio Board of Education member Melanie Bates said Saturday that about half of the schools to apply statewide did not make the deadline.

        “The first year, we just got some up and running,” said Ms. Bates of North Avondale. “Now we're putting in the quality controls so schools have the capacity that currently successful community schools have.”

        One of the schools that will not open this fall is ISUS Trade and Technology Prep, which had been sponsored by Cincinnati Public Schools. The local system approved two other schools that will open on time — the first time CPS has entered the charter school movement.

        ISUS was to be run by Improved Solutions for Urban Systems, Inc., a Dayton-based nonprofit company that operates a charter school there. It was to teach 75 students grades 7-12 and focus on at-risk youth.

        The two CPS-sponsored schools that will open are East End Heritage Community School and Lighthouse Community School.

        CPS Associate Superintendent Kathleen Ware said Saturday she was disappointed ISUS wouldn't open on time. But she added she understood why the deadline was enacted, especially since the local district needs to know what to plan for as soon as possible.

        “We're expected to provide transportation and the numbers impact our staffing,” Ms. Ware said. “This way, we can plan on how many students are going to charters, which gives us a step ahead of where we used to be.”

        Akron-based White Hat Management, which already runs Riverside Academy in Cincinnati, had two schools denied because of the deadline Company chairman David Brennan said the rule precluded the company from opening any elementary schools this fall.

        “We're aiming to open next year, and we'll still open some high schools,” said Mr. Brennan, whose company operates seven elementary schools and four high schools across the state.


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