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FWCS draws line on new charters

With one member objecting, the Fort Wayne Community Schools board Monday approved a resolution in opposition to any new charter schools planning to conduct classes within the district’s boundaries.

The resolution specifically mentioned a proposed charter school run by a group called Carpe Diem, which has applied to open this fall at The Summit on the former Taylor University campus on West Rudisill Boulevard. A hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. today. If approved, the new school would open next fall.

Carpe Diem students in grades 6-12 receive primarily online instruction, even in physical education.

The FWCS board resolution passed 6-1, with member Glenna Jehl voting against it.

Although the resolution doesn’t have any legal impact, it does stand as a statement from the board when a charter school applies for a location within the district, board president Mark GiaQuinta said.

Jehl said she could not support a resolution that would limit a parent’s ability to choose where their student should attend school.

“I don’t believe necessarily that every charter school is going to fail,” Jehl said, citing other states where charter programs have been more successful. “Competition is healthy. I believe that it is healthy. As long as it is not taking away a critical number of students from our school district, it does empower parents to have a choice.”

GiaQuinta said he respected Jehl’s comments, but disagreed with her opinion – especially related to the potential decline in FWCS enrollment.

“If they take 100 students away from us, that’s $600,000 and that pays for teachers,” he said. “I would respectfully disagree that the opening of any charter would not adversely affect our teaching professionals and our ability to pay them what they are entitled to receive for the work they are doing.”

GiaQuinta also said Jehl’s view of competition wasn’t appropriate for education where the failure of a charter school means the failure of students. “The problem with competition in this area is that you don’t know whether they’ve competed effectively until after they’ve ruined the educational experience of a child like they’ve done at Imagine (Academy),” GiaQuinta said. “Competition is great when you’re selling widgets, but when you’re providing the education for a child, it has no place.”

GiaQuinta asked that Jehl clarify when expressing her thoughts about charter schools that it is a personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of the board.

Construction projects approved

In other business, the board approved projects at various FWCS buildings. All of the projects will be financed as part of the Capital Projects Plan and are expected to be completed in August.

•A total of about $786,375 will be used to replace doors and hardware at 13 FWCS buildings, a window/curtain wall replacement at Maplewood Elementary School, replacement of toilet compartments in four bathrooms and a partial installation of acoustical ceiling at Glenwood Park Elementary School. The project will be completed by Fetters Construction, Inc.

•The replacement of a heating system for maintenance and facilities, the replacement of chillers at Fairfield Elementary School and the installation of chillers at Northwood Middle School will cost slightly more than $1 million. The project, which will be completed by Current Mechanical, will also include minor plumbing and HVAC work at seven schools.

•A project to replace the fire alarm system at Wayne High School will cost approximately $221,850 and will be completed by SCO Engineering LLC.

Also on Monday, the board approved the purchase of property at Price Elementary School to create additional space for parking lots or playing fields. The property was appraised at $70,000 and is at 2111 Steup Ave.

The board approved construction contracts for window replacement and masonry restoration at Adams, Abbett and Shambaugh elementary schools. The total cost will be about $1,333,691.