Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"The effect of such language would be to hide details of the financial operations of charter schools from public scrutiny."

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This is an excerpt from an article by Jason Fagone in the August issue of Philadelphia Magazine. According to Pennsylvania's Campaign Finance Reporting website, Mr. Gureghian has made over $1.3 million in political contributions since 2007 and was the largest individual donor to Governor Corbett.

"The way Gureghian's charter school in Chester works, the school itself is public. It receives taxpayer money. But a private, for-profit company—Gureghian's Charter School Management Inc.—manages the school's finances. It owns the buildings, leases them to the school, pays the teachers and, according to a 2008 report by the Inquirer, has collected $60.6 million in public funds since the school was started in 1999. Gureghian wanted to make sure the bill (SB 904) would exempt charter-school management organizations like CSMI from state sunshine laws. According to Republican State Representative Mike Vereb, who considers himself a friend of Gureghian, "The language that Vahan was looking to do had to do with vendors of a school … contractors." The effect of such language would be to hide details of the financial operations of charter schools from public scrutiny. Presumably, this would make it harder for Gureghian's competitors to copy his financial "recipe.""

Here's a pertinent ruling in a similar situation in Ohio:

A ruling to promote charter school accountability: editorial

Published: Sunday, August 21, 2011, 6:34 PM
By The Plain Dealer Editorial Board The Cleveland Plain Dealer
It took a Franklin County judge to make Ohio law perfectly clear to for-profit charter school operators: Despite years of lax oversight by Ohio education officials, they must follow the law.
Although Ohio's community schools are privately operated, their finances -- which come from taxpayers -- cannot be shielded from public scrutiny or oversight.
That ruling in early August, from Franklin County Common Pleas Judge John Bender, in favor of 10 governing boards that sued Akron-based charter school operator White Hat Management Co., holds that the company must "provide their governing authorities with a detailed accounting of how public funds were spent." The rest of their case continues.  Bender ruled that White Hat, owned by David Brennan, a major donor to Republican causes, must detail all public money it spent on school property, teacher salaries, books, equipment and funds paid to lobbyists.

NAACP Public Meeting on State Budget Cuts
When:  Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
Where: St. Luke's Community Christian Church - 320 Tilghman Street - Chester, PA
Doors open at 5:30 - Testimony begins at 6:00 PM and ends at 8:00 PM
The state budget cuts to education have had a devastating impact of on the students of Chester Upland School District.  The situation has led parents and the NAACP to organize a public meeting to bring this situation to light.
Elected and appointed state officials have been asked to attend. A seasoned panel will hear testimonies and present followup questions to the witnesses.
The goal of this public meeting is to clearly identify the ways in which the state budget cuts to education are harming children and to seek a remedy for the children.  If you are available, please attend the hearings and sit as a public witness to this injustice.


Education coalition, parents to meet to talk over U.D. budget cuts

By Giovanni S. Balthazar
The Keystone Education Coalition, a public education advocacy group, and Delaware County parents will meet with legislators next month to share their concerns about the budget cuts to the Upper Darby School District. The Education Coalition believes the state has undermined the funding of public schools. The Upper Darby School District believes the cuts have adversely and disproportionately affected their schools compared to the schools in wealthier districts. The state disagrees.

Posted on Tue, Sep. 20, 2011
Bristol's new school chief faces big job in small district
By Dan Hardy, Inquirer Staff Writer
As Jerome Mead, Bristol Borough High School Class of 1968, and daughter Selma Mead, Class of '95, sat in the auditorium of the district's elementary-middle school at a back-to-school night for Selma's sixth-grade daughter last week, it felt like home.

Public Schools Face the Rising Costs of Serving Lunch

New York Times By FERNANDA SANTOS, Published: September 19, 2011
The federal government is making school meals more nutritious this year, but also more expensive.  Under a little-noticed provision of the child nutrition bill signed by President Obama in December, which brought more fresh produce and less whole milk to cafeterias nationwide, school districts are required to start bringing their prices in line with what it costs to prepare the meals, eventually charging an average of $2.46 for the lunches they serve.

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