An idea, shot down by Rockford's Board of Education, gets another chance. A nine-member group known as the Illinois State Charter School Commission has the power to overturn the district's rejection, but members need public input before making a call.
In a room full of 20 or so people at Rockford Public Library's downtown branch, it was hard to find anyone who did not support Rockford's YouthBuild, which is a federally funded project helping at-risk teens and young adults. Greentek Charter School has a similar mission but not as much luck. That idea's tried to come to life four times over the last 13 years with no success. ISCSC members heard from both sides of the issue Thursday night, and the school district stands firm in its argument.
"Approval of the Greentek Charter School is not in the best interest of the students it is designed to serve." -says RPS205 legal representation Yashekia Simpkins.
Comprehensive Community Solutions administrators would take on the charter school. CCS is already in charge of YouthBuild. District 205 leaders say there are problems with Greentek's proposed budget, special education program, governance, and how the school will teach students who learn English as a second language. Members of the public have their own reasons.
"What I am uncomfortable with is using resources that detract from the YouthBuild program." -says GreenTek opponent, and former CCS board member Michael Shalbrack.
Many Rockford students, Youth Build success stories, and District 205 parents all came to support Greentek.
This was a public hearing but commission members had some questions of their own, like how idea organizer and CCS CEO Kerry Knodle plans to measure success for the potential school's students. Knodle says that, among other things, will be decided once the school is approved.
"Each one of these issues can be remedied in a constructive meeting with the board and its professionals and none of the issues should stand in the way of providing an education for a growing and increasingly undeserved population of at-risk youth in this community." -he says.
Commission members will consider all this information before deciding on Greentek's future January 7th. If the charter school is approved, it'd be separate from District 205 and the commission would oversee how it's operated.
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