On Thursday, February 6th, the Connecticut State Board of Education held its regularly scheduled monthly board meeting. This meeting included the oath of office for new members of the State Board of Education, as the Governor appointed Bonnie E. Burr, Karen DuBois-Walton, Martha Paluch Prou, and Awilda Reasco to fill the Board’s vacancies. While these appointments complete the Board at this time, three members’ terms (Erik Clemons, Malia Sieve, and William Davenport) expire at the end of February of this year.
This is the first of several SBE meetings that will include charter renewals this spring, as twelve charter schools are up for renewal this year. Items on the agenda included:
- The charter renewals for Stamford Charter School for Excellence, Amistad Academy, Elm City College Preparatory, and Achievement First Bridgeport Academy
- Agency updates on USDA proposed nutrition standards and school discipline
The State Department of Education (SDE) recommended to the State Board of Education the following for the schools:
- Stamford Excellence: a five-year renewal based on academic and overall achievement and improvement and meeting the terms of its charter
- Achievement First: two-year renewals for Amistad, Elm City College Prep, and AF Bridgeport Academy, inclusive of placing the schools on probation, and corrective action plans.
The State Board of Education unanimously voted in favor of Stamford Excellence’s five-year renewal and on the two-year renewals with the stated conditions for all three Achievement First schools.
As many of you know, the charter renewal is a comprehensive and robust process including a lengthy application for renewal, site visits, local public hearings, and review of the major components of the school including performance, governance, operations, and programming. Renewals are awarded in up to five-year terms and may come with conditions. The process is conducted by the State Department of Education and voted on by the State Board of Education.
This is the first renewal for Stamford Excellence since its opening in 2015. The school has demonstrated exceptional academic and overall performance, having been identified as one of the highest performing elementary schools in the state and a School of Distinction for achievement and growth in the last two years. The school has shown clear demand with a growing waitlist and clear community support as evidenced by the local renewal hearings. Currently, a PreK-5 serving 392 students, the school seeks to expand to middle school in upcoming years.
The renewals for Amistad, Elm City College Prep and AF Bridgeport, which collectively serve almost 3,000 K-12 students, acknowledged the strong academic performance of these schools, strong community support as evidenced by the local renewal hearings and clear demand with continued waitlists. The areas of concern identified by the SDE include:
- School discipline
- Adequate transitional bilingual program supports to eligible English Learners
AF’s leaders presented information on what work they have done to address these areas, updated data and information reflecting progress to date, and work they plan to do moving forward. This included working closely with the SDE to address these items.
During the public comment, over two dozen speakers, including parents, teachers, staff, and community members spoke in favor of all four schools.
As the next set of charter schools come before the State Board of Education for renewal in the coming months, we will keep a close eye and be available to provide your schools with support heading into these meetings.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.