Some area school districts may want to pick up with charter schools where the University of Toledo leaves off.
A group of superintendents, including Toledo's Eugene Sanders and Wood County Educational Service Center's Doug Garman, are brainstorming about how the public districts could authorize charters for the university's seven schools.
“We're certainly at the preliminary discussion stages with all of this,” Dr. Sanders said yesterday. “There has to be a role for the public schools to play with any entity that's engaged in educating our children.”
On Tuesday, the UT board of trustees approved a proposal from President Daniel Johnson to stop the university's charter school council from authorizing charters and to examine how to shift that power away from the university to another entity.
Current state law allows the UT council, Lucas County Educational Service Center, the Ohio Department of Education, and some school districts to issue charters. Pending legislation would permit nonprofit groups to authorize the community schools.
Dr. Johnson said chartering schools did not fit with the mission of the university. He met with the group of superintendents later in the week to brief them about the board's action.
“I've got to begin to put together a process now of hearing from the various parties relative to an action plan that I will report and recommend to the board at its August meeting,” Dr. Johnson said.
The seven-member University of Toledo Charter School Council has authorized seven schools, including two on-line schools. All of them are managed by for-profit companies, which could be a stumbling block to the proposed transfer to the public districts, Dr. Garman said.
“If they're really on the focus of children and student learning, then I would hope that those particular groups would be willing to share their profits back to their districts in which they've taken the money from,” he said.
Toledo Public Schools paid about $10.23 million to charter schools last year for the 1,670 students who lived in the district and attended charter schools. Wood County districts paid about $365,000 for their 71 charter school students.
Allison Perz, consultant to the UT council, predicted the groups holding the charters would not want to transfer their charters if that's what the superintendents propose.
“I wouldn't think it would be a palatable option for our schools,” she said. “Right now they have contracts that are in force. There are no provisions that allow for transfers of any kind. This would be a contract modification that would require mutual agreement of the schools, the management companies, and the university.”
All seven schools plan to open in the fall, she said.