Leaders of three Toledo charter schools that faced the possibility of being forced to close at the end of the academic year said yesterday they expect to remain open.
The Alliance Academy of Toledo, the Toledo Academy of Learning, and Aurora Academy, which together have more than 880 students, were informed in December that their contracts with the Lucas County Educational Service Center would each be terminated at the end of the school year.
But all three charter schools are close to securing new authorizing agencies - without which the schools would be forced to shut down.
"We can breathe a sigh of relief that we have a sponsor," said Karen Weber, an Aurora Academy board member.
The school board of Aurora Academy, which is the longest operating charter school in Ohio, met yesterday with representatives from Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, a Columbus-based charter-school authorizer.
Patricia Hughes, community schools division director, said the agency would accept the school if it provided a code of regulations and hired a special-education director and a curriculum coordinator.
The educational service center, which by law has to reduce the number of charter schools it sponsors from 99 to 75, said it was dumping a dozen schools - including the three in Toledo - because of perpetually poor academic performance and financial problems at some.
Jerri Heer, administrative director of Alliance Academy, and Denise Guynn, co-director of Toledo Academy of Learning, each said they also have been negotiating with Buckeye Community Hope Foundation and Toledo Public Schools.
"Obviously we want one that will make the best collaborative arrangement," Ms. Heer said.
Mrs. Guynn said she was always confident the school would find a new sponsor.
Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Eugene Sanders confirmed that the district has been in discussions since December with all three charter schools, but nothing is finalized.
"Our interest was in an opportunity to help students we have served in the past," he said.
Traditional school districts in Ohio also may sponsor charter schools. TPS sponsors five charter schools in Toledo. Mr. Sanders has regularly lamented the charter school movement as a drain on the district's resources because as children leave traditional public schools for charter schools, state funding follows the student.
By sponsoring charter schools, an agency like the educational service center or Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, or TPS, is permitted to charge a percentage of the money the school receives from the state.
Sponsors oversee the charter schools' activities in return for up to 3 percent of the money the state allocates to the school.
Mr. Sanders said some of the nine charter schools from elsewhere in Ohio that are seeking new authorizers have contacted the district, but he added that the district would limit itself to working with charter schools in Lucas County.
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