Cary D-26 Denies Charter School Proposal

The district administration cited many criteria failures in Vision Group's application.

The Board of Education voted unanimously to deny the charter school proposal submitted by the nonprofit, Vision group.

Superintendent Brian Coleman presented the administrative findings, which included 13 requirements that Vision Group did not meet. Fiscally sound, enrollment, admissions, school governance, goals and community support, were among the non-complaint items that fail to comply with the Illinois charter schools law.

Over a 5-year term, Coleman said the charter school proposal would cause the district to lose an estimated $12 million. 

“Based on purely looking at the proposal, there was no documentation or evidence of support from stakeholders, parents, teachers, pupils, or community members,” Coleman said.

“There was no research or survey information anywhere indicating that the community was interested or had a need for the charter school.” 

Coleman said majority of the public who spoke at the hearing were not interested in the charter school and insisted on the board to deny the application.

“Some of the public did voice that they were open to charter schools but they were not in favor of this particular charter school.”

Bruce Ritter, who was in attendance at the , said he attended the meeting with a open mind and was hoping for an opportunity to get his kids into a school and a program that had small class sizes and with hopes to getting “specials” back.

The Vision Group was “willfully unprepared,” said Ritter. “If we were to have a charter, this is not the group we would want to have in our community." 

Board secretary Chris Jenner would like to see a way a charter school would work in Cary. “I think one problem that we had here is that there was no expectation of what would work for us,” said Jenner at the Monday night regular board meeting.  

Jenner, who has been vocal about a RFP [Request for Proposal] process for charter schools, said define and document what factors would make a charter school work in Cary. “To me, it has to improve the academics and it has to save us money,” Jenner said.

The board did reach consensus on developing a RFP process for future charter school application processes.

Since the board has denied Vision Group’s proposal, the group is able to appeal the decision with the State Charter School Commission. 


Charter School Timeline Proposal


Action Time-Frame Completion  Board holds a public meeting to obtain information in its decision to grant or deny proposal Within 45 Days of receipt of proposal Public hearing held Feb. 21, 2012 Board publishes notice of public meeting in community newspaper and school district Not more than (10) nor less than (5) days before the meeting Noticed published in local newspapers Board posts copies of the notice at the location of proposed charter school, all district and district office Not more than (10) nor less than (5) days before the meeting Copies posted to all buildings on Feb. 15, 2012 Board votes at a public meeting to either grant or deny charter school proposal Within (30) days of the public meeting Board voted 0-7 to deny charter school proposal on March 19 Board will file a report with the State Board of Education granting or denying propsoal Within (7) days of meeting where Board took action on charter proposal If Board denies the proposal, applicant can appeal to the State Charter School Commission
Within (30) days of Board's denial vote

The commision can affirm or reverse the board's decision and a party may appeal a decision of commission in court under the Administrative Review Law.

Han Solo March 20, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I have so many opinions about this decisions. But, in order for me to formulate a proper one, where do I go to find out more about the Vision Group? It appears that this request was denied because of a judgment the board placed on this group. Which is ironic because this board should not pass judgment on any group or organization especially with the level of dysfunction that this school board has displayed in the past year. Does anyone have a website or phone number to share? Thank you.
Han Solo March 20, 2012 at 02:01 PM
To anyone that is interested....I found out more information about the Vision Group. But, it is spelled differently, Vizion Group [http://www.viziongroup.net], and that was the challenge. I also found out more information around the potential charter school itself - Concord Charter [http://www.concordcharteracademy.org/home.html]. I don't understand why this was shot down so quickly. Why not further investigate and give this a try? Better education and a chance to bring up property values? Can anyone suggest a down side? I am all ears.
John S March 20, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Paul, did you attend the proposal hearing? It was a bit of a disaster. I personally would have no intention of sending my children to this charter school based on what I've seen from the management so far. To be blunt, they seem woefully unqualified, unprepared, and seem to be more interested in what's in it for them rather than the community. Those who attended the hearing were overwhelmingly against the proposal after having heard from the group. IMO, this is an attempt to find a loophole to get their hands on development real-estate and district dollars.
Han Solo March 20, 2012 at 05:31 PM
John - I intended on going to the hearing but got stuck with something else. Can you shed any more light on why this charter school is a bad idea. I am so in the dark and would like to be enlightened. Thanks.
KJK March 20, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Ditto what John S. said. Paul- what specifically is it that you consider to be dysfunctional about this board? Our schools are in a tough spot right now, but the cause of this goes much deeper than "this board". I don't know what your level of knowledge is, but I think if you take a deeper look at specific issues, the choices their predecessors made, the options they had and the constraints they are under, you'd understand the actions of the last year. It sucks, but unless you think a really big tax increase would have passed over the last year, we pretty much have what we have...and the situation has stabilized. Out of the woods- no, are special subjects teachers back-no, but calling board members dysfunctional for stabilizing a problem 10 years in the making...I don't get it. As for this charter school...the BOE did exactly the right thing by voting the Vision group's proposal down.
Han Solo March 20, 2012 at 06:27 PM
KJK - what is your name? What I mean by dysfunction is that we have far less services and infrastructure for our children now than we did a few years ago. My perspective is from a common tax payer, parent, and resident of Cary. And when I talk to my friends in FRG and Crystal Lake, they are not dealing with nearly as many issues or needed to sacrifice as much. Something must be dysfunctional somewhere because these other school districts are able to retain many of their services even though our currently economy is tough. Isn't the board ultimately responsible to maximize educational opportunity for our children? My comments are based on conversations I have from other parents in other districts.
KJK March 20, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I think you need to look a little further back to understand why our services were cut. I, too, do not like the situation we are in, but in my opinion, the dysfunction took place over the last 10 years when spending and services far outpaced the revenue that was available. The simple explanation is that money was spent that the district didn't have. Without additional revenue (i.e. taxes), we were set us up for the fall we have experienced. The collapse of the economy didn't help either. This was not the making of our current board of education. They are the clean-up crew. You also have to remember that the board is not the only party at the table. Our teachers (bless them for finally contributing in a real way) had a contract that the district couldn't afford. Additionally, I don't like the circumstance under which I understand they were negotiated (IMO the relationship between the BOE and teachers union at the time was way too cozy). There was, prior to 2009, a real disregard for the very real financial constraints a school district must deal with. I do not wish to rehash the past. As I alluded, the teachers have now really contributed. But I don't think you understand the facts...and to that end, I will try to inform anyone that thinks the current situation is our current BOE's making. Kurt Kaiser
Han Solo March 20, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Thank you for your insight Kurt. I appreciate that. Back to the original question though....why is a charter school a bad idea? Potentially, the standards are higher and they can offer more than what our kids are getting now. Thank you.
KJK March 20, 2012 at 07:27 PM
First, I don't think the concept of a charter school is bad. There are a lot of examples where they have been very beneficial....some where they have failed miserably too. The issue here is the group that is trying to do it. They are really not prepared. The BOE made it clear in what they've said that they were considering the proposal they had in front of them, not the concept of a charter school in Cary. The other challenge is that if a charter were to open, money would come from the still financially fragile school district. At most, this would roughly benefit 30% of Cary kids. The other 70% could face more changes. They could be forced to fire more teachers, close another school, etc. These are some of the things that have been brought up. Personally, my hope is that we don't just open 1 charter school in Cary, but that the school district looks to use some of the components of charter schools that work well and could benefit all of the students in the district.
Han Solo March 20, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Once again, I appreciate your insight Kurt. You have given me a lot to think about.
KJK March 20, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Anytime Paul. I started this FB page back in 2010. Feel free to use it if you you'd like to talk more... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cary-School-Solutions/127281230649469


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