Renewing the contract
ARTech, like all charter schools, has a sponsor. Charter schools must have a contract with a sponsoring organization that can be a school district, an institution of higher learning, a nonprofit organization, or a foundation. ARTech and Prairie Creek are both sponsored by the Northfield School District. As part of our contract, we report to the district each year, sharing the school’s annual report. Once every three years, charter school’s go through a process of contract renewal.
This is an involved process that includes a period of self-study, a visit from a site evaluation team and, finally, a submittal of a report to the Northfield School Board. For ARTech, this process began way back in the fall. At an ARTech board retreat, we carefully reviewed the recommendations of the 2006 report and set about creating a guiding document for the self-study process. A response to the 2006 recommendations was generated with the input of board members, parents, students and faculty. It focused in on the education program, school climate, finance, special education and governance. This self-study document was the guiding document presented to the evaluation team.
We assembled a pretty impressive team with considerable expertise and experience in the charter school world. Our team was headed up by Cathy Tower Oehmke, Carleton Visiting Assistant Professor of Education. She was ably assisted by Bonnie Jean Flom (climate), Karen Kennedy (special education), Caroline Jones (governance) and Leisa Irwin (finance). Cathy is in the process of drafting the report and collating all the observations and recommendations of the team members. We will be sending a copy of the report to Dr. Richardson and the Northfield School Board this week and presenting it at their next meeting on Monday, March 9.
It was great to have the evaluation team in our building watching ARTech in action and talking to students, staff and parents. They spoke very favorably of their experience (Bonnie Jean was particularly effusive about her conversations with the students)
and I know their report will be useful to us, not just as a tool in the contract renewal process, but as a guide for future strategic planning.
If you are interested in learning more about the contract renewal process we have engaged in, talk to a board member, ask me, or come along to our next board meeting on Thursday, March 12 when a review of the report will be part of the evening’s agenda.