Board puts brakes on all-boys school


Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - A

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

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