Barnstable School Committee Votes Against Horace Mann School Charter


HYANNIS – The Barnstable School Committee decided not to renew the charter Wednesday night for the Barnstable Community Horace Mann Charter Public School.

After a nearly hour-and-a-half debate, the committee voted to bring the school back into the district.

The decision came after staff and administration from the school pleaded with the committee to renew the charter, saying they’ve had great success over the years.

Horace Mann Charter Schools are governed by a board of trustees and not the school committee.

The decision not to renew the charter for another five years means governance of the school will return to the school committee.

Several board members expressed concern about enrollment procedures at the school and the inability of the school committee to have oversight.

“We have no say and we have no authority over what happens on the day-to-day,” said Stephanie Ellis, the vice chair of the school committee. “It’s not about what happens in the classroom, not at all, because great things are happening in the classroom. It’s just the governance.”

School Committee Member Chris Joyce, who voted five years ago to renew the charter, feels it was time for the school to fall back under the governance of the school committee.

“Over the last five years I have just felt differently and there has been a lot of different interactions over the last five years and I felt it was time,” Joyce said. “It was a very difficult decision to make.”

The school will continue to run as a Horace Mann Charter School for the next school year.

Staff and administration at Horace Mann said many parents would pull their kids from the school if the charter was not renewed and would send them to other schools in the district.

“It is going to be a great school,” Joyce said. “There is no reason for people to get nervous and upset and leave and whatnot. It’s got all next year to work through the plan.”

Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown echoed the Joyce opinion and said there would be no reason for that as the school would continue with its high standards, but just be under the jurisdiction of the school committee.

Other members of the school committee even suggested the school could become and Innovation School.

Innovation Schools can implement creative and inventive strategies, increase student achievement and reduce achievement gaps while keeping school funding within districts.

The unique schools operate with increased autonomy and flexibility in six key areas with the goal of establishing the school conditions that lead to improved teaching and learning.

Horace Mann Trustee and Treasurer Timea Menyhart said that with an Innovation School model governance would probably be taken away.

“I think it’s not necessarily transparent to tell all the staff that the governance would stay,” Menyhart said.

An attempt to renew the charter pending changes within a new memorandum of understanding did not receive a second when proposed by School Committee member Patrick Murphy.

Vice Chair Stephanie Ellis made the motion not to renew.

Ellis applauded all the students, teachers and parents who have put all their efforts into the charter school.

“You guys have made a difference in the education of the children of Barnstable Schools and I am so proud of that, but I do think it is time for a changes,” Ellis said.

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