Further analysis of proposal to convert 100% of York City Schools to charter schools needed

Posted on Posted in Archive

The York City School Board is considering a proposal to convert 100% of York City schools to charter schools.

This is an extremely large scale and risky proposal that leaves the York City School District children and taxpayers at risk and the process is taking place in an alarmingly short timeframe. The school board received proposals from charter school operators in August and plans to vote on the proposal in November. Three months is NOT enough time to conduct a thorough analysis of the impact that converting 100% of York City schools to charters would have on the York City community and students.

The school board has the power to reject this proposal. Please click HERE and take 2 minutes today to send an email to York City School Board members to urge them to oppose this proposal.

To learn more please read below.

Further analysis and community conversation about the proposal to convert York City SD to a 100% charter district is needed

The Issue

The York City School District was declared financially distressed in 2012. The state appointed Chief Recovery Officer David Meckley to work with the district to craft a financial recovery plan. This year the York City School Board plans to vote to approve one of two options as part of the financial recovery plan process.

The Options

The first option is to continue working to implement an internal transformation plan.  This plan was crafted by teachers and school officials last year and has not yet had a chance to be fully implemented.
The second option is to remove the York City School District from the control of a locally-elected school board and to hand the entire school district over to a charter school operating company. York City School District would become the ONLY 100% charter school district in PA and become part of a large-scale experiment.

Red Flags

The process of choosing a charter school operator for York City School District is taking place in analarmingly short timeframe and with inadequate public input.  Charter school operators’ proposals were reviewed in August and the York City School Board hopes to make a decision by November.  A significant portion of the process happened over the summer – a time when parents and community members are often not following school district issues as closely.

Many questions remain about the impact of converting 100% of schools in the York City School District.

• How will decisions be made about which schools students can/will attend?  If some charter schools receive more applications than others, who will determine which students are allowed to attend these schools?  Is it possible students will lose the right to attend a neighborhood school?
• Will students with disabilities have the right to attend any charter school or will they be assigned to a school?
• What authority will the YCSD school board retain if the district is charterized? Who will have taxing authority?
• What accountability will be in place to protect the taxpayers? Will local taxpayers have any recourse if there are problems with the charter operator? 
• What would change about access to services and programs? Sports?  Music?  Will they offer full day Kindergarten? Who will decide these things? How will the public have input when the charter school boards are not accountable to the community?
• What will happen to the existing charter schools in the York City School District? Will these schools be closed? If the existing charter schools in YCSD are closed, where will the students attending these schools go next year?
• What are the financial costs of dismantling the current infrastructure?  How many jobs will be lost?
What would the costs be of having to put a new infrastructure in place if this proposal does not work out?
• Mosaica Education, one of the two charter school operators being considered, took over a school district in Michigan and then ended its contract with the district early because of financial issues.  What guarantee can Mosaica Education provide that it won’t walk away from YCSD and leave the district in chaos if it faces financial issues?

Neither Mosaica Education or Charter Schools USA has provided solid evidence that they have successfully taken over a large number of public schools with demographics matching YCSD and significantly increased student achievement. This is an extremely large scale and risky experiment that leaves the York City School District community at risk.

In New Orleans, the only city in America that has converted to 100% charter schools, the academic performance results have been decidedly mixed and parents have lost many of their rights. While some charter schools in New Orleans have shown an increase in test scores, many other schools have shown little or no improvement. In addition, in New Orleans, parents have very little control over which charter school in the district their children will attend as neighborhood schools have been eliminated. Parents create a list of the three top choices of schools for their children and a computer program determines which school their child will attend.

A full and fair, balanced discussion of the future of the York City School District is critical, one that does not just “sell” this change, but fully outlines the risks, as well as the possible rewards.

What You Can Do

Make your voice heard.  Members of the York City School Board will decide the fate of the York City School District. Click HERE to send an email to board members.

Talk to your friends and neighbors and encourage them to send an email to board members or to attend the community meetings at Hannah Penn on September 23, 24, and 25 from 6:30-8:30 and share why you oppose the 100% charterization of the York City School District.

School board members were elected to represent the community. They need to hear from you so they can make a decision that reflects the priorities of the families and taxpayers who live in YCSD.

If you would like to learn more about how to be an advocate for your child or your child’s school, please contact Susan Spicka at sspicka@educationvoterspa.org