Karel Kilimnik’s testimony to the SRC – February 8, 2017

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Good afternoon. I urge you to veto all three applications. We can’t afford them. Our district schools lose every time a charter is approved.

I am quoting from attorney David Lapps’ 2014 testimony. The district can only approve an application if it “conforms to the legislative intent” of the charter school law…that depends on there being a robust “existing system. The explicit statutory intent is that charter schools will “improve pupil learning” and “increase opportunities” and “expand” choices. There is no dispute that the district currently is not in a financial position to afford more charter schools without damaging the “existing system.” Quite simply, the approval of more charter schools in this financial climate will decrease the quality of district schools.

I also urge you to create accountability for charter schools. Each CMO signs a contract for five years but there is nothing to hold them accountable for staying open for this entire term. Young Scholars Charter School abruptly pulled out of its 2013 contract to run Kenderton School last June leaving the school in turmoil. There are no penalties nor consequences for early termination of any charter school contract.

I attended the Friendship Whittier Charter School hearing and heard numerous examples of omission. Now that the Whittier School building is unavailable Friendship is scrambling to find another location and wants to delay their opening date.

When the hearing officer asked what they saw as their catchment area there was no response from any of the six people on the panel. Finally someone said two miles around the school. The hearing officer said you have no idea, you’re just making this up as you go along and the person responding acknowledged that “it hasn’t been thought through”. There is not one parent on their proposed board. They allude to a group of dissatisfied parents from the Peirce school they took to see their schools in DC but outside of this reference there appears to be no parent involvement.

There were conflicting answers as to foreign language instruction. One person said they wanted to include the thoughts of the community and another panelist said Spanish instruction would begin in kindergarten.

They list two groups under community partners. One is Citizen Consulting Group based in Chicago. 4th Sector is the other community partner that will be paid for their services. They are based in Louisiana.

The CSO staff is to be commended for the work they have done evaluating these applications. Imagine what they could do if they were fully staffed to monitor and evaluate the 86 charter schools in our district.