Last night’s East Aurora charter hearing. The board voted no.
Earlier today I reported the the application by Greater Good Education for a charter school in the predominantly Hispanic, low-income East Aurora school district.
The proposal by Greater Good Education provided redundant services and took precious dollars out of neighborhood schools.
Last night, after the board meeting had been moved to a larger room to accommodate the large turnout of parents and community members, the members of the East Aurora board of education voted unanimously to turn down the charter proposal.
The vote came after extensive questioning by board members and administrators on the school’s proposed students, curriculum, staff, programming and finances.
Several teachers and district employees spoke against the charter, expressing concerns about how the school would affect the district financially and how the introduction of a charter school could affect the district in the long run. Many said the district already has alternative education programs, programs designed to meet the social and emotional needs of students, and qualified teachers and staff.
Other members of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools spoke in favor of the school.
Before the meeting, East Aurora teachers’ and staff union officials issued a statement urging the board to deny the charter application, saying the school would “be a burden on the district’s resources while offering no new services for East Aurora’s students.” Union president Gerry Mestek said in the statement the concept hadn’t been fully developed, and expressed concern that public money would go toward an “unelected board of outsiders.”
“There’s really nothing new,” Mestek told the board at the meeting. “They’re taking programs that are currently in operation at District 131, they’re changing them maybe by name, moving them around a little bit. All it is, is old wine in new jars.”
Under Illinois law the Greater Good group can appeal the decision of the locally elected school board to the Illinois Charter Commission.
The Commission is made up of pro-charter political appointees. Legislative attempts have been made to take away the ability of the Commission to hear the appeals and then override home rule. The attempts to restrict the power of the Charter Commission have repeatedly failed.