Board puts brakes on all-boys school
Elementary School as IDEA Allan and is slated to expand into Eastside Memorial High School in fall 2013.
New Trustee Jayme Mathias proposed keeping IDEA confined to Allan for one more year, a contract change that the board must first approve. Mathias said that delaying the expansion would give the district time to gauge whether the partnership should continue.
“It’s a stop-gap measure,” Mathias told the board.
The charter-school district partnership has been a contentious issue, with some parents saying the district failed to build consensus before moving ahead with the plan.
The board debated the issue at a December 2011 meeting for more than six hours in front of a standingroom-only crowd before voting 6-3 to approve the arrangement, which supporters say allows underenrolled schools to stay open while offering parents further academic choices.
Last week, Mathias said he was initiating the contract discussion, because “the decision to partner with IDEA was made with a board that no longer exists.”
Three of the six trustees who voted for the partnership are gone, and the balance of power has shifted to those, including Mathias, who have been critical of the decision.
Tina Fernandez, an IDEA representative who came to the meeting Monday to provide an update on the charter school’s progress, viewed the development with concern. “This sounds like another rash decision,” said Fernandez.
Carstarphen twice said she was unclear on the direction the board wanted her to take. She said she wanted to sit down with administrators and IDEA representatives to think through the implications of keeping the in-district charter contained at Allan.
However, most trustees seemed to indicate they wanted the proposed contract changes ready for the December meeting.
“My take on this is to correct missteps of the board” approval of the partnership last year, said Trustee Tamala Barksdale, who was in the minority voting against the partnership last December.
If the IDEA representatives are unwilling to make changes to their current contract, trustees said, board members will reconsider the entire contract, which could prompt a vote to cancel the partnership. The district’s agreement with IDEA states that if either party wishes to leave the partnership, it can do so by giving notice by Dec. 31 of the year prior.
At Monday night’s meeting, the boardroom was filled with both IDEA