August 12, 2020

Spending Prioritizes Increased Diversity
North Carolina’s State Board of Education awarded nearly half of a $36 million federal grant this week to 34 charter schools that have agreed to take steps such as giving selection priority to applications from low-income students. “When you look at the names of the schools on this list, they are some of the strongest, most mature schools that have totally committed to increasing the diversity in their schools,” said Dave Machado, director of the state Office of Charter Schools. Each school will receive between $300,000 and $900,000 over the next five years. The federal money comes on top of a $26.6 million grant in 2018 and a $10 million grant last year, also intended to increase the educationally disadvantaged population in charter schools. T Keung Hui, These NC Charter Schools Will Get $17 Million to Serve More Low-Income Students, The News & Observer, August 7, 2020


Closed Charter School Makes Good With Investors  
Leaders of a closed Philadelphia charter school have sold its building at Seventh and Sansom Streets for $11.8 million to an affiliate of investment group Lubert-Adler. Most of the proceeds from the sale of the five-story, roughly 125,000-square-foot building will be used to pay off a bond that was issued to pay for the property and its renovation. The defunct Charter High School for Architecture and Design  was closed in a deal with the School District of Philadelphia, as it faced the possible non-renewal of its charter to operate. CHAD, as the school was known, opened in 1999 with the goal of sending more African American students into architecture. But a district evaluation in 2018 found declining test scores and attendance, noncompliance with special-education requirements, and financial issues. Jacob Adelman, Closed Architecture Charter School Sells East Center City Building to Philly Private Equity Firm Lubert-Adler, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 6, 2020


Los Angeles Unified Plan Called "Profoundly Illegal" 
California’s Assembly Bill 1505, passed after a year of bitter fighting between teachers unions and charter schools, went into effect in July. While it was obvious that provisions in the law were bound to make it harder to open charter schools, other provisions seemed to find middle ground. Now, LAUSD’s board is adopting a plan to implement the new law. The California Charter School Association says the plan shatters the compromise central to AB 1505, stretching the district's new regulatory powers in ways that could "ban new charter schools and close existing quality schools." While the association has a long list of objections — 10 pages worth — its main concern is new rules about where charters choose to house their schools.

Meanwhile, four growing charter school organizations are suing California, charging that the state’s formula for funding K-12 schools during the pandemic will illegally deny payments for additional students in their schools. Instead of funding California’s schools on their actual SY 2020-2021 per pupil basis, the state is using SY 2019-2020 numbers, ignoring that many students transferred from district schools to charter schools during the pandemic shutdown and over the summer. The lawsuit claims charter schools are being underfunded by millions of dollars and their students’ constitutional rights are being violated. It asks the courts to immediately force the state to reimburse the schools for newly enrolled students. In SY 2020-2021, 116,000 LAUSD students are projected to attend charter schools. Kyle Stokes, Huge Changes To California's Charter School Law Just Took Effect. Already, LAUSD Charters Are Worried


260 Charter Schools = 260 Plans
Large school district central offices charged with creating fall's districtwide schedules for in-person learning are usually unable to account for an individual student’s age or needs. In contrast, charter schools across NYC are exploring options tailored to their students. Some are prioritizing their youngest learners, students with disabilities or those who have difficult home situations that make remote learning untenable. Others are planning to start remotely at least until the end of September, if not longer, wanting to honor parents’ preferences, or waiting to more fully understand health-related guidance. Still others are opening with a “hybrid model.” Because they are self-governing units, each has the flexibility to do what’s best for their unique students, for the benefit of the 126,400 city students who attend NYC charter schools. East Harlem Scholars Academies, whose ZIP code had the highest death toll in Manhattan, plans to start with a completely virtual schedule for its 1,500 pre-K-12 students when schools start on Aug. 24. Ashliegh Garrison, From Fully Remote to More In-Person Learning for Younger Students: Here’s What Some NYC Charter Schools are Doing This Fall

Slamming the Door on Re-Opening
One of the biggest public charter school operators in Florida surprised parents and teachers by doing an about-face last week on its reopening plans for this coming school year. Charter Schools USA had initially said it would physically open its South Florida schools, but this week officials announced that in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, the COVID positivity rates are still too high to reopen safely. The company operates 92 schools in five states, with 14 in South Florida serving about 18,000 students. Ari Odzer, Charter Schools in South Florida Reopen With Distance Learning, 6 South Florida, August 7, 2020


Keeping Florida's Charter School Students Enriched While School's Out for Summer 
Florida’s The Villages Charter School’s (VCS) motto is, “VCS- where it’s cool to be smart!” VCS is trying to stick to that, launching “Camp Innovation,” which offers students a mix of physical education, arts, design projects, an introduction to career academies and some academics. The two-week, optional academic and enrichment program for kindergarten through 12th grade is underway now. Camp Innovation is attracting about 800 students a day out of 3,300 enrolled during the regular school year - but estimates most students are attending at least part of the time. Masks are mandatory and temperatures taken before students are allowed onto campus. Reviews from students have been positive. “All my kids are loving it,” said Chris Weber, father of four. “They absolutely love it, especially physical education,” seconded parent Amy Lazdowski. VCS even put on a 2020 version of band camp for its musical students. Dayna Straehley, Charter School Camp an Innovative Solution, The Daily Sun, August 8, 2020
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