Posts Tagged ‘Charters’

Questions of the Week – Charter School Governance

September 15, 2009

St. Vrain School District has received two charter school applications this year.  I am a board liaison to the Accountability committee which does the initial review of the charter school applications and makes a recommendation to the Board of Education.  I also have done an initial review of each of the applying charter school’s proposed governance model.

In both cases, the governance model allows the founders of the charter school to retain permanent control.  In one case, the proposed charter for Longmont would be one of three along the front range.  A single board would govern all three schools.  The board would include one parent from the Longmont charter school.  No other board members would necessarily be from the community.

In the other case, a proposed charter school for Erie is being organized from three educators who live outside the school district.  These three educators are the current and only members of the board of directors.  The governance section of their charter application indicates that the current three board members will appoint two others.  In future years, the standing board will elect three board members and the parent community of the charter school will elect two board members.  The way the proposal reads the founding board members could elect themselves for as long as they want.

I am of the mind that when a school asks to be chartered by a local school district it is requesting to be a community-based, public institution.  As such, the school should be accountable to and governed by members of the community.  The five charter schools currently operating in St. Vrain meet this test.

Here are my questions: Is it okay for a school chartered by the St. Vrain Valley School District to be governed by a board with a majority of members living outside the school district?  And, is it okay for the founding members of a charter school to write the bylaws in such as way as to guarantee that they can retain control of the governing board for as long as they are interested?

I’m interested in what you think.