Source: East Aurora Report Card.
Tuesday night’s East Aurora school board hearing on a proposed charter school had to be moved due to an anticipated larger than usual turn out for a board meeting.
The 7 p.m. was moved to the cafeteria at East Aurora High School. The hearing portion of the meeting was part of the Greater Good Education nonprofit’s application process to open a charter school at a proposed location within East Aurora district boundaries.
East Aurora is a mainly Hispanic school district serving mostly low income students where services are already stretched thin due to Illinois’ reliance on local funding for public schools. A charter school in East Aurora would be locally funded as well, taking funds away for redundant services.
I will report the results of the hearing as soon as I hear.
The following story appeared in the Aurora Beacon News.
By Community Contributor Gerry Mestek
On December 29, 2016, the Beacon News ran an article regarding an application for the establishment of a charter school within the East Aurora district boundaries. The concept may seem attractive on paper, but a deeper reading of the application shows the proposal is incomplete, weak and would offer redundant services.
These services proposed would reach 200 students at full capacity, who currently receive similar services from District 131 personnel. The targeted population of students currently may already be receiving accommodations such as social-emotional services as part of their designed education at East High School where counselors and social workers meet with them on a regular basis. As such, the teaching staff and administrators meet regularly to review progress and modify academic units that students can complete and succeed in attaining state learning goals as they progress through carefully designed grade-level curricula. In addition, the staff engages the students at all levels to guide and instruct them. Our student population receives preparation for future careers and college readiness.
One claim made by the charter applicant, Robin Lenart, states that her Board all have experience in the fields of education. However, she’s the only one who has experience in education, the others hold degrees in various fields, with two holding advanced degrees in business.
This application purports that this charter school would provide “opportunity for authentic learning and career path development through rigorous standards based curriculum, inquiry-based classroom instruction and hands on experiences in the real world setting.” Interestingly, East High School, along with every school in the D131 school district, is engaged in providing those experiences to every student, every day. More than 56 percent of EA teachers have a Master’s Degree or higher, and those teachers are dedicated to their student’s success. Professionally, our teaching staff excels at what they do in the classroom to provide a safe learning environment for your child.
In addition, the charter school application identifies that they will not provide transportation to their location, which is at the north end of the district, which is not convenient to most of the East Aurora residential population. As also described, the rigor of the academics is par with what might be considered a fourth grade level in D131. One design that was outlined in this proposal covers water, studying quality, distribution and composition. This design would occupy 12 weeks of valuable academic time. By comparison, our fourth graders complete these activities in two weeks and are introduced to other topics, including the three of states of matter. This does not demonstrate rigorous academics for high school students.
Another glaring omission in this application is the section that should describe the articles of incorporation. Instead, there are six empty pages that should be there to provide additional clarity to the purpose and operation to this charter school’s structure and operation. These are conspicuously missing.
A further point of concern focuses around siphoning funds from D131’s budget to provide redundant services. If this were passed, then as a community, the students and taxpayers would see school funding taken from the General Aid fund, free and reduced lunch program and Title I. As such, these funds are applied to D131 programs that service many students in all the neighborhoods of East Aurora. Not only does this proposal want our funding, but also they identify the need for our staff to assist them with evaluations and counseling. This would place additional burdens on our staff that otherwise would be used on helping your students in your neighborhood schools.
There are nearly 15,000 students and approximately 1,400 staff members in East Aurora School District 131. Students’ engagement begins at early childhood centers, and continues through high school. District 131 supports 15 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, East Aurora High School with its extension campus, and a magnet academy. All district schools are in city neighborhoods of Aurora.
The resulting impact of this charter school to East Aurora families is reduced resources for all students and extra layer of unaccountable bureaucracy.