Who’s behind the York Community Foundation Charter School?

Some York City students attended last night's meeting to oppose turning schools over to a charter operator.

Some York City students attended last night’s meeting to oppose turning schools over to a charter operator.

Update: Comments from Charter Schools USA and Margie Orr have been added at the bottom of this post.

At last night’s York City School Board meeting, questions came up surrounding a nonprofit entity that would be the charter holder if the school district’s buildings were turned into charter schools run by Charter Schools USA.

Charter schools in Pennsylvania have to be nonprofits. (They can then contract with other companies, which can be for-profit.)

What do we know about the nonprofit board?

On Sunday I reported that recovery officer David Meckley said there was a nonprofit corporation, called York Community Foundation Charter School, established with three inaugural board members: president Carl Anderson, Jody Keller, secretary, and Ernie Waters, treasurer. Meckley said last night that the entity is incorporated.

On Friday, I spoke to Anderson, of West Manchester Township, who said representatives of Charter Schools USA reached out to him and others looking for community members who might serve on a nonprofit board. He also said he was on the York County Community Foundation’s board and a member of YorkCounts, which was behind the initial all-charter idea.

Anderson told me those three individuals were the only ones affiliated with the nonprofit.

Meckley said the three inaugural members would select additional board members as bylaws are prepared.

What’s the York County Community Foundation’s role?

Given the name of the nonprofit, I called the York County Community Foundation.

“We’ve been helpful in working with hosting meetings of community leaders and personnel from the charter schools to show them the community leadership in York was strongly behind the all-charter methodology of improving academic performance,” Bill Hartman, president and CEO of the York County Community Foundation said Tuesday. He, too, noted that the foundation and YorkCounts initially recommended the model.

Hartman said the foundation made some recommendations about who might be a nonprofit board member and worked with several of the charter operators that applied.

Some have questioned whether anyone on the charter board lives in the city, and Meckley said last night he didn’t think any of the three inaugural members do.

“I think the most important thing to be taken into consideration is the capability and credibility of the individuals on the board and the skill sets they bring to this initiative,” Hartman said Tuesday when asked about that concern. “Carl Anderson, Jody Keller and Ernie Waters, all three are proven community leaders with good track records (of) providing the kind of leadership that’s going to be needed for us to improve academic peroformance of York City schools.”

Hartman said the community foundation would not be involved in any way with the management or operation of the schools  but would be willing to provide support or advice if asked.

The charter name reflects that foundation’s support for the process throughout and that the foundation is sponsoring the entity’s nonprofit application, he said, but he thinks the name will be changed to something broader in the future.

Richard Page, executive vice president of development for Charter Schools USA, said the board members are “independent community leaders who want to vol their time to govern the schools.”

They were identified through conversations in the community, with the recovery officer and the district, he said. The company explained its goals, he said, but the board members are “completely independent of us.”

“These are community leaders who are willing to put their experience and reputation on the line to oversee these schools,” he said.

Margie Orr, president of the York City School Board, believes the nonprofit board should contain city residents, saying it’s otherwise “totally overlooking the taxpayers who fund our children’s education.”

Posted in Angie Mason, Charter schools, York City School District | 2 Comments

Penn State York cancer survivor raises money with poker tournament

Jimmy Clark (submitted photo)

Jimmy Clark (submitted photo)

Penn State York senior and cancer survivor Jimmy Clark is continuing his efforts to help children battling cancer.

Clark was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, when he was a sophomore at Red Lion Area Senior High School, according to a news release. He was treated at Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey.

Now the 21-year-old is cancer free and looking to add to the $40,000 already raised through poker tournaments to help others battling cancer.

The fifth annual Poker with Jimmy Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament will be held starting at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 22 at Goodwill Fire Company, 2318 S. Queen St., York Township.

A donation of $50 is suggested. Anyone 14 or younger must be with an adult, the release says.

Played at a previous Poker with Jimmy event? Bring a friend and get an extra $100 in chips, the release says.

Money goes to the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports children with cancer at Penn State Children’s Hospital. The fund helped Clark when he was being treated.

Penn State York’s THON group is helping with the event. Learn more on the tournament’s website.

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Crispus Attucks opens Sonny Simpson Play Zone

From left Niles Glasgow, 6, Jamiel Alexander, Mia Johnson, 10, and Phoenix Glasgow, 4, all of York, make a flower box for a playground named after Sonny Simpson. (File photo)

From left Niles Glasgow, 6, Jamiel Alexander, Mia Johnson, 10, and Phoenix Glasgow, 4, all of York, make a flower box. Volunteers worked to beautify the 500 block of South Duke Street and build a playground named after Sonny Simpson. (File photo)

Crispus Attucks was set to open and dedicate the new Sonny Simpson Play Zone, at 524 S. Duke St., York, today.

The park includes playground equipment, benches, a picnic table, grill and trash cans, according to a news release. A mural created by Ophelia Chambliss and painted by volunteers hangs beside the park. Lighting was installed to increase safety at night and highlight the mural, the release says.

Sonny Simpson lived on Duke Street and was “an avid supporter of children and youth involved in programs at the Crispus Attucks Association,” the release says. He died in 2002 at age 58.

Sonny Simpson (submitted photo)

Sonny Simpson (submitted photo)

“It’s wonderful that Wells Fargo made it possible for us to honor the memory of Mr. Sonny Simpson in this way. He would be happy to see children playing in a safe place right in the neighborhood,” Jacquie Martino-Miller, youth programs director, said in a news release.

Wells Fargo provided funding for the pocket park.

Also of interest: Volunteers helped bring the park to life.

 

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Blog: Receiver appointed for Mosaica

Diane Ravitch, a national voice in debates over public education, reports on her blog that a federal judge in Atlanta has appointed a receiver for the Mosaica charter school chain, as a result of a lawsuit filed by a creditor.

You can read her blog entry here. 

Here’s a story from Courthouse News Service.

Mosaica was one of the top two finalists considered as the York City School District has debated bringing in a charter company to run district schools.

Use the timeline below to see what’s been happening in York City.

 

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Spring Grove Rocket Scientists to work with NASA again

Spring Grove students Kyle Abrahims, left, and Mike Abata prepare the rocket for transport to Huntsville Alabama in 2013. (File photo)

Spring Grove students Kyle Abrahims, left, and Mike Abata prepare the rocket for transport to Huntsville Alabama in 2013. (File photo)

It looks like Spring Grove’s Rocket Scientists will have the chance to work with NASA once again.

Back in 2013, we wrote about a team of Spring Grove Area High School students who were selected for NASA’s student launch program. The select honor gave them the chance to build a rocket and launch it at NASA’s facility in Huntsville, Ala.

Then, last fall, we reported the news that NASA had cancelled the program for high schools, so what was supposed to be Spring Grove’s second year of participation came to an end.

Undeterred, the students built their rocket anyway and launched it in the spring at an event in Maryland.

Now, they’ll work with NASA again.

Teacher Brian Hastings told me by email that the high school’s proposal was accepted for the 2015 Student Launch program, which NASA has restarted. Spring Grove is one of eight high schools or middle schools in the country that were selected.

Stay tuned to see how things progress.

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This time, kids smooched a piglet for a good cause

I’ve blogged before about how principals are often doing crazy things to reward their students, maybe for hitting a reading goal or a fundraising milestone.

On the list of crazy things, we’ve seen principals pucker up to pigs. The events usually bring great photos of kids, who LOVE to see their principals do wacky things. (See a few examples below.)

But last week, I’m sad to say, I missed a good one.

There were kids kissing a pig.

Northeastern Middle School principal Michael Alessandroni emailed Thursday morning to let us know that later in the afternoon, the school was hosting a charitable pig-kissing event to raise money for Vickie’s Angel Walk, an organization that supports breast cancer awareness, and a student who is battling cancer, Hope Westrick. The school’s Friends of Rachel club sponsored the event.

But, as sometimes happens, we just couldn’t make it. So I missed the most adorable of moments – kids! piglet! – and for such a good cause. Two students, a teacher and Alessandroni all smooched the little pig.

But Alessandroni submitted a photo from the day, so we’ve still got some cute to share.

Student Obi Onwukanjo is the student selected by his team of peers to kiss the pig at the charity event held at Northeastern Middle School. The event raised money for Vickie's Angel and an eighth-grade student named Hope Westrick who is battling cancer.  To date the school has raised over 2,000.00 to support Hope and her family as they battle her cancer. (Submitted photo)

Student Obi Onwukanjo is the student selected by his team of peers to kiss the pig at the charity event held at Northeastern Middle School. The event raised money for Vickie’s Angel Walk and an eighth-grade student, Hope Westrick, who is battling cancer. The school has raised over $2,000 to support Hope and her family as they battle her cancer, said principal Michael Alessandroni. (Submitted photo)

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York Country Day students sing for new citizens

Judge John S. Kennedy stands with fifth-graders from York Country Day School. (submitted)

Judge John S. Kennedy stands with fifth-graders from York Country Day School. (submitted)

On Thursday, fifth-grade students from York Country Day School honored new U.S. citizens with a song at the naturalization ceremony that took place at the York County Administrative Center.

Meet the new citizens: Click here for a photo gallery and story from the day.

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York City School District audit coming

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York City situation draws attention in national media

Margie Orr watches a rally outside a York City schools meeting. (Jeff Lautenberger photo)

Margie Orr watches a rally outside a York City schools meeting. (Jeff Lautenberger photo)

The possible conversion of York City School District buildings to charter schools run by outside operators has drawn the attention of some national news outlets and bloggers lately.

The attention has been coming from sources opposed to the idea of charter operators, and that view comes through loud and clear in these pieces.

The Education Voters piece includes a list of questions, some of which you can find answers to in our coverage.

Click here to find a complete list of all of our coverage of this issue from the past two years. This story looked more closely at “turnaround” experience with Mosaica and Charter Schools USA.

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Pennsylvania School Boards Association asks candidates about education

Signs dotted the landscape outside a polling place in the May primary. (file photo)

Signs dotted the landscape outside a polling place in the May primary. (File photo)

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association sent six education-related questions to every state House and Senate candidate.

Their answers have been compiled on this website, where you can search for the candidates in your area.

It looks like only one candidate in York County, Kristin Phillips-Hill, answered the questions, most of which required only a yes or no.

But you can browse around and see what other candidates have to say. The questions included the candidates’ education priorities and their views on legislation related to charter schools, taxes and other issues.

 

 

 

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