Horace Mann Trustees Say Parents Organizing to Renew Charter

COURTESY OF BARNSTABLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

HYANNIS – The Board of Trustees for the Barnstable Community Horace Mann Charter Public School says it will be up to parents to persuade the town’s school committee to renew its charter.

Earlier this month the school committee voted not to renew the Hyannis school’s charter despite years of success and high standardized test scores by students at the K through 3 facility.

Students from all of Barnstable’s seven villages attend the school, and a majority are from low income households.

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

Board of Trustees member Timea Menyhart says the hands of the board are tied when it comes to swaying the school committee to reconsider its decision, and that teachers won’t be helpful either.

“They might be fearing for their jobs,” Menyhart said. “They really don’t want to oppose any district decisions because they don’t want to be out of a job.”

That leaves the burden of convincing to school committee to changing its mind up to parents across the district.

“The parents are organizing,” Menyhart said. “And they are planning on petitioning for the revote of the school committee.”

Menyhart said the parents are devastated and that there is a great need for school choice in Barnstable, especially the local neighborhood.

“A lot of those parents are seeking options for their children because, first of all, most of them would belong to Hyannis West, and they feel that their children need more than what Hyannis West can offer, or the district can offer for that matter,” Menyhart said.

Scores of students at the school have been increasing over the last few years and Menyhart said the extra services that are offered enrich the children.

According to Horace Mann school’s board of trustees, only one school committee member has ever attended a board meeting and none have ever been to the school. Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown did not visit the school until the school committee voted to not renew the charter.

Some members of the school committee 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.

“This should have been somewhat of a partnership,” Menyhart said. “This was always an underlying issue that they didn’t like the fact that there was an independent board that is overseeing the big picture decision making process.”

Menyhart said the school has been successful because the program allowed ownership from all stakeholders, including the board, the principal, teachers, parents and students.

She said the school committee expects the results and the culture of the school to remain the same if it becomes an Innovation School.

“I do believe the results were so good because everybody had vested interest in it,” Menyhart said.

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