School Board Gives Feedback On Possible Charter Expansion

School board gives feedback on possible charter expansion

WICHITA FALLS, TX

The Wichita Falls ISD Board  of Trustees met Monday night to discuss a new charter school that's looking to call Wichita Falls  home.

Premier High Schools Charter submitted an application to open up a new campus in the Wichita Falls area. While no address has been decided, board members and school officials said it could end up hurting existing districts.

That’s why the board approved moving forward with a statement of impact to the Texas Education Agency. It would tell TEA officials that the opening of a new charter school would have a negative impact on the district.

 It's all part of the process for a charter school to expand. Right now, Premier High Schools charter is notifying all of the districts around the area that may be impacted by its opening

Each district will have the opportunity to submit a statement of impact. Wichita Falls officials said this type of development can have a huge impact in overall funding for the districts.

 “When any school, whether its private or charter school or anything like that, opens up, students then have the options to go to one of those schools,” said Michael Kuhrt, Superintendent for the WFISD. “Whenever a student chooses that option the district loses that student which loses state funding.”

Not only is there potential to lose state funding, but it’s hard to plan for district staffing needs, according to Kuhrt.

“Every year we adjust staffing, in other words, we’re about to go through our staffing projections for next year here next month,” said Kuhrt.

If a new campus opens and students are lost, they may have to cut jobs. If the charter fails, it’s just the opposite, according to Kuhrt.

He said they experienced a similar incident with Bright Ideas Charter School, after is shut down last year after failing state accountability ratings.

“With Bright Ideas we received those students back and then we had to individually work with them to see where they are, assess them and things like that,” said Kuhrt.

While a new school could mean more options for parents, one grandmother said she doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

 “The last charter didn't work so I don’t think a new charter is going to work,” said Virginia Arellano.

Other residents, that didn’t want to go on camera, said the new school could be a new opportunity for students who need it.

 The Texas Education Agency said the school districts do not have to submit a statement of impact, but the charter is required to show proof that they notified all the districts in the area.

“When the charter expansion amendment request comes in, we do tally up how many districts were going to be negatively impacted and how many were not,” said Lauren Callahan, spokesperson for the TEA.

Although the input is welcomed, the TEA does have the capabilities of approving the expansion requests without the impact statements, according to Callahan.

Board members also approved a ten cent rate increase for school lunches across the district Monday. The increase brings elementary lunch rates to $2.55 and secondary lunch rates to $2.65. Those new prices are for the 2016-2017 school year.

Board officials also moved forward Monday with the renaming of Washington Jackson Elementary School. The renaming process has been on-going. School officials allowed anyone from the area to submit new name ideas. The board moved forward with the overwhelming submission name of Booker T. Washington. The final approval and reading for the name change will be April 18, 2016.