U-46 board might meet Monday to review charter school contract
Elgin schools' officials Monday night said they have received responses from a group proposing an Elgin charter school addressing concerns raised during negotiations about special education services, transportation and other issues.
In April, the Elgin Area School District U-46 school board allowed the Elgin Math and Science Academy charter school proposal to move forward against the recommendation of district administrators, provided both parties can agree on contract terms by June 30.
The school is proposed to open in August 2018 with 200 students in kindergarten through third grade. Another grade would be added each year, eventually offering classes through eighth grade for up to 450 students.
Several school board members at a meeting last month expressed concerns about the school's ability to attract and maintain a population of 60 percent at-risk students and sought a detailed recruitment plan.
"It (the feedback) really has helped us address our approach," said Kerry Kelly, president of the Elgin Charter School Initiative. "We intend to provide the board with our outreach plan next week. We hope this will assure you our intent to reach a majority at-risk students."
District officials previously agreed to assess the school's performance toward meeting that goal as part of annual accountability measures.
Kelly said group leaders still are committed to providing transportation for low-income students, another concern raised by school board members and some parents opposed to the charter.
District officials wanted to include a contract requirement that special education services for eligible students be provided by the district through third-party vendors, as well as a provision to reduce the school's funding by whatever costs are associated with the district providing specialized services.
"We are requesting 100 percent of our tuition, which is about $10,000 per child," Kelly said in response. She added that in a typical year the school would spend about 8.5 percent of its revenues on special education needs.
District officials said they might conduct a special meeting Monday to review the latest revisions by the charter group to the proposed contract and address any concerns or questions the administration and school board members might have.
The charter group has until Sept. 30 to secure permits for construction and rehabilitation of the proposed school site -- the former Fox River Country Day School at 1600 Dundee Ave. to be leased from the city of Elgin -- from the regional office of education. It must secure the occupancy permit by May 15, 2018, per the district's stipulation.
The next regular school board meeting is June 19.