|The following questions have been submitted and answers attached below. Please refresh and check back often to see updated responses:|
1. If we have a 5-year financial model with detailed budget information, including all revenue and expenditures, must we also submit the same budget information in the state budget format?
The state charter law (TCA 49-13-107) requires the operating budget for five years based on anticipated student enrollment. These amounts will vary according to the particular plans that each applicant submits for the transition to charter management. The state has been charged with establishing the rules for complying with the Charter Law, and the five-year budget form is one of their rules. So, yes, the state budget format is required.
2. Are applicants required to submit both a Tennessee charter school application and the MNPS Transformation Proposal application?
The Transformation Partnership School Application (pages 13-29) fully integrates all required aspects of the state application while focusing on the particular needs of a Transformation School Parnter. Please attend to the page limits and complete that application. You do not need to submit two separate documents.
3. How final is the application? With the compressed timeline and a desire to fit the application into the actual contours of the school and community, how much latitude to adapt the application following approval will there be?
The goal of meeting the needs of the school and community will require on-going adaptation and flexibility. The Office of Charter and Private Schools (OCPS) is used to working with charter operators to distinguish material changes from changes that do not alter the basics of the Charter Agreement, and the partnership envisioned in this RFP encompasses a continuing dialogue that will facilitate adaptations according to the best interests of the students. In order to balance the certainty and predictability of a final agreement with the dynamism of this partnership, applicants should think of the process in four parts:
a. The application period – This is the time that applicant organizations assess their capacity and the contours of the most successful proposal they can handle. Applicant capacity should include the beginnings of community partnerships, both formal and informal, and careful attention to a transition plan that fits the organizational capacity of the applicant.
b. The review period – This is the time when the community reacts to the applicant’s plan and adds further information about the needs that the plan may not fully address. It is expected that the community feedback will result in amendments to the proposal even during this process. Amendments will be submitted formally according to the amendment format in the charter law, but will be submitted during the review period, prior to the committee’s final recommendations.
c. Approval – This is the point of formal Board action by MNPS and the point at which the issues related to employment decision-making, personnel policies, and transition timelines will be finalized and enforceable. The charter agreement will be composed of this approved application plus the particular requirements of interaction with the District, use of facilities and services, etc. Predictability is crucial at this point as it relates to decisions that will affect personnel reassignment within the district.
d. Partnership period – This is, of course, the real strength of the model we are following. The charter operator will manage according to the charter, and the charter board will manage as envisioned under the charter law. However, the realities of a phased conversion (should that be the final plan) as well as the continuing supports from the District to ensure that all progress for student achievement trends upward will not be realized without regular discussion and dialogue that will justify continuous adaptation for continuous improvement. As in all charter relationships, proposed changes will be communicated to the OCPS, and material changes will be submitted to the MNPS Board prior to implementation for approval of amendment to the charter, while non-material changes will be documented by OCPS but implemented under approval of non-material change.
4. What is the appropriateness of contacting teachers at Cameron for information that could make an application more responsive to the needs on the ground?
Subject to guarding the school day, and the willingness of individual teachers to interact, learning about the school and its community is most appropriate. Several teachers were present at the Q and A session, and they have volunteered to respond to questions from applicants. The teachers in this group, plus others, have expressed a desire for applicants to get to know them and to know the school. Contact information to arrange for conversation with interested teachers will be provided if you contact the Office of Charter and Private Schools (OCPS).
5. What latitude is available for making capital improvements to the building?
Building occupancy and changes are negotiable. The District encourages plans to improve the physical space as part of the charter proposal.
6. What happens to the existing resources in the school?
Federal money spent on materials to serve the students at Cameron will stay at Cameron, and, subject to some negotiation, management of the academic program and community relations at Cameron will be undertaken in the building with the current configurations in place. It makes no sense to empty the building after years of interventions have filled it with useful materials. The goal of school turnaround is to manage the school “as is” and, by building on the existing foundation, take the students to were we all want all of them to be.
[More Q and A forthcoming]