Claycomb Associates, Architects

With the upcoming school year already upended by the coronavirus pandemic, charter schools in Los Angeles are facing more uncertainty as they comply with a new state law.  California’s new law imposing greater restrictions on charter schools, which took effect last month, faces pushback from charter schools in the district that’s home to the largest number of charter schools in the state. At issue is a draft of a new 80-page policy detailing how Los Angeles Unified plans to implement the law. The policy will be in front of the school board for a vote on Tuesday.  L.A. Unified’s policy, which was developed by its charter school division and reviewed by the district’s general counsel, is likely to set the stage for how other districts across the state interpret the new law, Assembly Bill 1505. The law gives school boards more power to reject new charter schools and changes the process for renewing charter schools. view article arw

IDEA Converse ready to open doors

August 1008:25 AM

IDEA Converse Public Schools expects to welcome more than 440 students to the program this month.  The new campus will begin serving pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first-grade and sixth-grade students on Aug. 11 at its complex at Martinez Converse Road and FM 1516.  School programming will open in an all-virtual format due to COVID-19 restrictions set forth by the state. But while PPEs and safeguards are being installed and adhered to, school officials say the pandemic won’t keep the school from its mission. view article arw

The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, is a $660-billion business loan program established as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus legislation that Congress passed in the spring. PPP was aimed at helping certain small businesses, nonprofit organizations, sole proprietors and others stay in business during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Small Business Administration administered the program, and recently the SBA and the Treasury Department released some data on what organizations won loans from the program and how much they received. (Some loans can be forgiven if the PPP money is spent on keeping employees on the payroll.)   view article arw

In 2015 the Washington Post shared this observation of privately-operated charter schools by a veteran public school official:  David Hornbeck was the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools from 1976 to 1988 and the superintendent of the Philadelphia school district from 1994 to 2000. For years he was a supporter of charter schools, seeing them as an important tool in the school reform arsenal, and as Philadelphia’s superintendent, he recommended that more than 30 charter schools be allowed to open. Now, in a reversal that is rare in education, he said this:  “The last 20 years make it clear I was wrong.”1  Hornbeck is one of many who have traveled this increasingly non-rare road of awakening. Many others have also experienced rude awakenings due to the large chasm between charter school hype and charter school realities.   (27) view article arw

Dallas ISD officials are pushing back on a charter school's plan to move its Oak Cliff campus to Paul Quinn College.  Officials at KIPP Oak Cliff Academy plan to move the high school, which is operating in a shopping center in Oak Cliff, to the college campus in the spring of 2021.  At a news conference Tuesday morning in front of the college, Dallas ISD trustee Maxie Johnson said the network was trying to "bully" its way into Oak Cliff without meeting with members of the community to discuss their plans. Johnson, whose district covers a large swathe of southern and western Dallas, said his constituents have told him they don't want the campus in their neighborhood.    (15) view article arw

The treatment of students with disabilities in the Texas public education system has all the ingredients for an emotional and disturbing HBO series. It involves politics, money, deception, denial, Federal investigations, lawsuits, questionable State contracts and the wrongful termination of a “whistleblower” at the Texas Education Agency (“TEA”). Unfortunately, it also involves the neglect of underprivileged students and families that rely upon and are guaranteed assistance from public schools. view article arw

HARLINGEN — Face to face, virtual, or a combination of both?  All of the above when Jubilee Harlingen opens for the new school year, says Flor Robinson, associate superintendent for Jubilee Academies — Rio Grande Valley.The nonprofit charter school organization has sent surveys to parents of all students. In those surveys, parents can indicate which instructional model they prefer for their children this school year. They can ask for their children to continue with online learning or come physically to class. There is also the hybrid model, which consists of both face to face and virtual instruction. view article arw

While sheltering with her family during the pandemic, dealing with the challenges of remote learning, Michelle Tomlinson couldn’t help but notice in her social media channels the growing frequency of charter school advertising. She was annoyed that the schools were targeting public school parents where she lived in the suburban northeast corner of Wake County, North Carolina, the sixth-wealthiest zip code in North Carolina, with some of the state’s top-performing public schools. view article arw

The nonprofit, nonpartisan “In the Public Interest” joined forces with Parents United for Public Schools in Oakland to investigate whether charter schools in that city were double-dipping, taking public school money and also taking federal funds intended for small businesses. Their conclusion: Oakland charters have collected close to $19 million that was intended for small businesses. view article arw

More than two-thirds of New Orleans' charter school organizations have applied for federal loans through the congressional act to help keep businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, garnering criticism from some groups for tapping into a program that hasn't been available to traditional public schools. view article arw

WASHINGTON — Charter schools, including some with healthy cash balances and billionaire backers like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, have quietly accepted millions of dollars in emergency coronavirus relief from a fund created to help struggling small businesses stay afloat.  Since their inception, charter schools have straddled the line between public schools and private entities. The coronavirus has forced them to choose.   And dozens of them — potentially more because the Treasury Department has not disclosed a list — have decided for the purpose of coronavirus relief that they are businesses, applying for aid even as they continue to enjoy funding from school budgets, tax-free status and, in some cases, healthy cash balances and the support of billionaire backers.    (17) view article arw

When the leaders of IDEA Public Schools gathered last December to vote on an eight-year lease for a private jet, the charter network’s then-board chair, David Guerra, thought of the nearly $15-million deal in business terms.  As president and CEO of International Bank of Commerce, Guerra and his team had used six corporate jets to grow the multibillion-dollar company beyond its Laredo home base. The same advantage would hold true for IDEA, he reasoned, as the state’s largest charter school network, which started in the Rio Grande Valley, rapidly expanded across Texas, Louisiana and Florida.  “We cannot fulfill our commitment to such a large geographic area without having this type of transportation,” the retired banking chief told fellow board members, who unanimously approved the lease. But they reversed the decision two weeks later after charter school opponents and even some of the network’s supporters denounced it as an irresponsible extravagance. view article arw

Good news for athletes in Boerne. The Boerne ISD Athletic Department began their Summer Strength and Conditioning Workouts Monday at Boerne ISD Stadium. Over 500 student-athletes from all sports at both middle and high schools were there for the optional workouts. The students will be working out inside all this week due to the heat. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency (“TEA”) continues to approve the rapid expansion of IDEA Public Schools (“IDEA”), the largest and fastest growing charter school system in Texas. A charter is a taxpayer funded, privately managed school system that is approved by the State to simultaneously operate schools in the boundaries of school districts (“charter”). To fund charters, the State “recaptures” taxpayer funding from locally governed school districts and redistributes it to the privately managed charters it has approved. In Texas, charters receive over $3.2 billion of taxpayer funding per year. view article arw

EDINBURG, Texas – State Rep. Terry Canales wants more transparency at Texas charter schools and says he will introduce legislation next session to demand it.  The Edinburg Democrat does not like the way IDEA Public Schools has been run over the past few years. Referencing Texas’ largest charter school network, Canales titled a recent post on Facebook, “Charter Schools Gone Wild.”  IDEA has come in for criticism for leasing and operating a private jet for several million dollars. However, this was not at taxpayer expense, IDEA said. The charter also spent $400,000 on tickets and box seats at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Again, this was not at taxpayer expense, IDEA said. view article arw

A charter school system that has yet to open it first Houston-area campus already has plans for another in the works.  Idea Public Schools, which styles its name as "IDEA," for "Individuals Dedicated to Excellence and Achievement," plans to open 20 schools across the Houston area within the next six years.  The newest campus will be called Idea Lake Houston, but it will be near the interchange of Highway 90 and South Lake Houston Parkway, a little over 10 miles northeast of downtown Houston. The campus will open in August 2021 with kindergarten through second grade as well as sixth grade. Afterward, a new grade will be added yearly until the campus provides pre-K through 12th grade in 2027. view article arw

Blooming Grove Independent School District recently welcomed Rick Hartley as its new superintendent.  Where and how did you begin your career in education and what lead you to become a superintendent?  To be honest, my first inclination in college was toward criminal justice. I had ambition for federal law enforcement. Sadly, my eyes did not meet the necessary requirements and I began looking for a new career path. I was working nights at a college and would often stay after the classes ended to tutor math students. I enjoyed it and was successful in getting the adults to learn where they struggled. From that success, I decided to change my major to education. view article arw

HISD trustees voted Thursday to begin the months-long process of seeking a state designation that could result in students returning to classes in mid-August starting with the 2021-22 school year. view article arw