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 Article of Interest - Charter Schools

Charters Planning to Open Despite Watkins' Concerns

Gongwer News Service, April 10, 2003

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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 oversee them.
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 Thursday.

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