The Cincinnati Public School board has voted to begin discussions with a charter school company called Phalen Leadership Academies. An agreement could lead to a new school.
But the CPS Board and many people who spoke at Monday night's meeting agreed all involved need to take it slow. The Board changed the wording on the resolution from" enter into negotiations" to "enter into initial exploratory discussions." The board also added that "CPS gets the first right of refusal in purchasing the property should the school close."
Some people are worried that Phalen will profit, others wonder about the quality of teachers and whether they will be unionized. Julie Sellers, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers president, says, "I hope that this is not a ploy of union busting and corporate takeover like many other districts in the U.S."
Sister Monica McGloin is skeptical of what she sees as a profit driven charter company. "Our children are not for sale. It feels like we are being bought," McGloin said.
CPS Board member Elisa Hoffman was impressed when she visited a couple of PLA schools in Indiana, and so was Patrick Herrel, CEO of Accelerate Great Schools. He knows the founder. "It's one of the few schools where 100 percent of students passed their third grade reading test," Herrel said.
Herrel raises money to create new or transform existing schools in Cincinnati. He says the next steps would be for the district, community members and the union to decide if this is the right fit.
CPS faces a deadline to sign with Phalen to get state money for a new facility.