Educators have renewed optimism for MPS charter schools

Renewed optimism for MPS charter schools

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Local educators are revisiting an idea to create new conversion charter schools in Montgomery.

The deal between the local school system and the Montgomery Education Foundation (MEF) would convert three existing public schools in the city. This week Justin Hampton the Director of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives for the Montgomery Education Foundation presented information about a new charter conversion school contract to the Montgomery County School Board during a work session.

“Upon sharing and giving some clarity to the board I felt like there was overwhelming support, but you never know until a vote is cast," said Hampton.

Conversion charter schools were considered before and struck down by the board in February. Hampton says the major difference between this contract and the previous one is the MEF adjusted its ask from four schools to three. Those three schools would be ED Nixon Elementary, Davis Elementary, and Bellingrath Middle Schools.

“There has been fine tuning of what the financial contributions will be and what the academic performance requirement will be. It has kind of raised the accountability level and made sure more is available to do in house directed to the students, said Hampton. “I think what this gives us the opportunity to prove what is possible and show that with this initiative we can have significant results.”

In this case MPS would still own the facility and employ personnel. MEF would oversee day to day operations and curriculum. By law there would be no changes to any zoning or student population.

“The funding model for conversion schools is the same as the current traditional school. The same per student allocation funding is the same. The only different is we get less because there is a level of oversight and administration of that goes into MPS overseeing the effort so we keep a portion to fund that,” said Hampton.

Hampton pointed out that investing in these three schools located in West Montgomery would be beneficial.

“A lot of people feel as if, and I agree, West Montgomery is left out of the equation when it comes to development. To push this initiative in community’s that desperately needs investment and opportunity this is where is should be first," said Hampton.

Parents like Steward and Ayata Hayles are excited about this possibility.

“We think the positives out way the potential cons. Montgomery has much more to gain from charter schools than they have to lose and losing being we stay in the same situation," said Steward Hayles.

Two of the Hayles three children were enrolled in MPS, but given multiple factors they were forced to make a tough decision.

“We saw some disengagement with them and their learning and we had to pull them out,” said Ayata Hayles.

While their kids would not be zoned for the schools included in this potential conversion plan they still support the system and believe this move could benefit everyone.

“We support MPS and we want them to do well because it affects us our family and our business. Having the opportunity to provide homes in those area is a huge plus," said Ayata Hayles.

MEF says at this point it will be up to the school board as to when they will vote on this contract. If the contract was approved the target to open would be Fall of 2020.

“What the contract does is it says this isn’t promises anymore this is in writing and we are going to do what we said we were going to do and get the results we say we are going to get, said Hampton. “This is a highly accountable effort that has an extreme level scrutiny.”

MPS Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore has said this is not an arbitrary kind of decision and nor will the implementation be done haphazardly.

“It’s not an arbitrary and capricious kind of decision that has to be made, nor is the implementation done haphazardly. It has to be done according to the law," said Moore.

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