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BoroAt last week’s Springboro school board meeting, questions were asked, questions were raised, and questions remain about what will happen next.

We learned that no due diligence was done in the “search” for consulting firm to do a feasibility study on charter schools. We learned that the only vendor considered for our objective analysis is a vendor that specializes in developing charter schools. I’ll say that again, one vendor was considered. One. This particular vendor does not specialize in just doing studies. This vendor helps to establish and run charter schools.  This raises questions…

We learned that some members of the board believe that choosing this vendor, in this fashion, this quickly is ok because “if we were building a hotel, we would hire someone who specialized in building hotels.” to help us. This is telling because it means that moving forward is a foregone conclusion. If they were approaching this objectively we would not yet be in the “we’re building a hotel” phase. We would be in the “what should we build and why should we spend money to build it” phase. There is no clear opinion about what problem a charter school would solve and no data that shows this would improve our district, and yet members of the board want to move forward.  This raises questions…

Ohio ranks 10th - taken from the OSBLC website

We learned that in spite of an auditorium filled with tax paying Springboro residents expressing their objections to the board haphazardly rushing to spend our money on this charter school study, two board members remained adamant about immediately pressing onward. One of these board members was subject to some very tough personal questions throughout the meeting regarding potential conflicts of interest. Rather than agree to take a step back, openly acknowledge people’s concerns, and answer taxpayers’ questions before moving this initiative forward, the audience was chided for having the audacity to exercise our 1st Amendment rights to question his authority and commitment.  We were told that charter schools had to be explored now, and yet the reason for the urgency was not provided.  We were given statistics that attempted to create fear by highlighting cut scores, proficiency levels, and global and national competition.  Apparently even though Springboro outperforms every charter school in the State of Ohio, is ranked 3rd in the region, has the lowest expenditure per pupil, performs far above state averages, and actually very closely represents the “good school” example in the study he cited, we have to move forward immediately.  Also of note, The OSBLC, the school board organization led by our school board President, lists a fact on its home page saying Ohio ranks 10th nationally in education as cited by Edweek (see picture to right).  So we are one of the best districts in one of the top 10 ranked states, but somehow we simply have to spend money on an urgent need for charter schools that do not perform as well as our own district.  Fortunately, thanks to a motion made by Mr. Miller, the Charter School vote was tabled.  3 of 5 members voted to delay approval of spending tax payer money on this study.  I applaud the three of them for having the courage and wisdom to listen to the people.  And then, two days later, in an article by Jill Kelley in the Dayton Daily News, it was revealed that the deadline to submit paperwork to start a charter school this year is March 15th. This fact was not previously disclosed to the public by our board members. This raises questions…

If the Springboro school board wants people to stop asking them tough questions, then they should stop behaving questionably.

The big question facing each member of the Springboro school board now is this.  Will they push forward on the policy of pursuing an expensive study of charter school feasibility with a consultant that has not been vetted, for a project that the public does not want, for something that they themselves have not fully explained, which also has no data to support need or viability, and that raises questions of their intentions all because they currently have the power to do so, or will they listen to the public, take a step back, answer our questions, address our concerns, and work with the community and the faculty and staff of the district to truly address the educational needs of our children in a constructive, collaborative manner?

The answer to this question will help us answer the others.