Charters Planning to Open
Despite Watkins' Concerns
Gongwer News Service, April 10,
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At least one of
the seven public school academies chartered by Bay Mills
Community College to open in the fall is moving ahead despite
refusal by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins to
recognize the schools without proof the college can properly
Mr. Watkins informed Bay Mills in a letter dated Thursday that
he would not be assigning state identification numbers to the
seven schools, meaning they would not qualify for state aid once
they open in the fall, until the college provided copies of its
plan to oversee the new charters.
But Keystone Charter Academy in Sumpter Township, which began
construction on its $5 million new building earlier this week,
went ahead Thursday with a lottery to fill the 400 spots in the
new school. Officials at the school said 600 students had
applied to move to the school in the fall.
The Department of Education, in a statement Thursday, said it
does not have the financial resources to oversee any additional
charters. "The point is accountability and oversight for charter
schools is inadequate at this moment in time," the statement
said. "Given that, creating additional charter schools is an
abdication of the superintendent's responsibility to be a
steward of taxpayer dollars and to protect our children."
Department spokesperson T.J. Bucholz said the School Code allows
Mr. Watkins to suspend a charter authorizer from issuing
charters if it is not properly overseeing the schools it has
authorized. "We haven't seen one stitch of paper from Bay Mills
how they're going to oversee (the schools)," he said.
Bay Mills officials could not be reached for comment late