Deeper look into conversion charter schools versus start-ups

Deeper look into conversion charter schools versus start-ups

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Davis Elementary is the first up, the first one to become a charter school through conversion after the county school board voted Tuesday night 5 to 1 to begin the process.

“This will be the first model in the state, so it’s new for MPS and new in the state,” said Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore.

The contract calls for the Montgomery Education Foundation to run the day-to-day operations of the school while the school district continues to own the school and provide personnel. The overriding goal is to help Davis Elementary to turn the corner. The school received a failing grade on the most recent state report card.

“We’re obligated to see improvements," said Montgomery Education Foundation Director of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives Justin Hampton.

Here are some of the differences between a converted school and a start-up, such as LEAD Academy: The converted school begins in an existing building such as Davis Elementary; students living in the school zone get first priority and will have its own governing board. Start-ups get their start in a new building; enrollment is done by lottery and the start-ups make their own financial decisions along with staffing and curriculum.

“They will be looking at getting students to perform at a higher level," said Moore.

The Montgomery Education Foundation and the school board are convinced this plan points the school district in the right direction. The real work begins right now.

“As soon as we get management in, we’ll target the fall of 2020," said Hampton.

If all goes well and both sides uphold their bargain in the contract, Nixon Elementary and Bellingrath Middle School will be next in line in the conversion process.

County school and foundation leaders say getting to this point took about three years.

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