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AISD, IDEA Plan Next Move After Contract Cancellation
Severing ties with IDEA: Austin Independent School District Board Members voted to end their contract with IDEA charter schools late Monday night at the end of the 2012-13 school year after more than a year of controversy.
IDEA took over Allan Elementary, which has more than 500 kids and 50 staff, at the beginning of the semester. The charter was also contracted to begin taking over Eastside Memorial High as early as 2013-14.
"Shocking in a bad way," said Yolanda Davila, a parent of an IDEA sixth grader on Tuesday morning, reacting to the AISD board decision. Davila said she was expecting a compromise between IDEA and AISD, not a cut-off.
"You would have thought that after four months there couldn't have been an effective assessment of what has happened,” said Davila.
"I think at this point it's more productive for us to talk about a path forward," said Tom Torkelson, IDEA Public Schools CEO, on Tuesday morning during a press conference with IDEA officials held in front of IDEA Allan Elementary.
Charter officials thanked the district and revealed next steps. Once the year ends, they’ll move out of Allan and open a new school at an undetermined site in Austin in September 2013. The school will eventually hold K through 12. It’ll be funded through raising money from 26 other campuses. It’ll still be free to students and parents like Davila who want to stay.
"Wherever they go, we'll end up going," said Davila.
So what about AISD? How much have they spent so far? How well did the program work, and what happens next? We weren’t able to get a meeting scheduled this morning, so we stopped by AISD headquarters shortly before noon. A staffer gave us the following statement from Dr. Meria Carstarphen, AISD Superintendent, issued Monday after the decision:
“The board made their decision tonight and the administration will now begin working with IDEA to plan for the transition.”
As to next steps and the cost, the staffer said those are both questions the administration was still trying to figure out themselves this afternoon.
Torkelson says IDEA plans to announce more specifics on the new campus as early as January or February. He says they are not planning to partner with any other school districts in Central Texas.
By Adam Bennett