UNO New Orleans In The News

4x6_uno_postcard_eng_2a_2There've been a slew of UNO-related news stories of late, in print and on TV, about the new school opening in New Orleans :

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/491739,CST-NWS-KATRINA01.article

http://abc26.trb.com/

http://wgntv.trb.com/news/

Filed under: The World Outside CPS

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  • my child was failing at a pilsen school two years ago, i must admit, if they were selective, why would they take a kid with behavioral problems AND bad grades, in the past two years not only has my child excelled in both math and reading, but he has not gotten into any real trouble in a long time. If UNO was selective, it would never have taken him, so why do you insist on perpetuating the notion that charters are selective. AND WHO IS THE conspiracy theorist who says that they have an inside on CPS to look up test scores... are you kidding me?

  • What do you mean by this statement, George:

    "And, as a growing number of teachers and parents are speaking out about, the charter schools are a nasty reality for many people. Once you peel beyond the glossy marketing materials and the lies repeated over and over by "New Schools" and "Demographics" to make the case for the particular charters, things get more and more interesting."

    If you mean bad charters, the parents always have the right to pull their children out of them. Hopefully, over time, word will get out and they will close or lose their charter.

    In this case, UNO seems to be doing a good job of educating their students as judged by test scores, as indeed, many of the other charters seem to be doing. And it's all voluntary. If a parent doesn't want to send their child to a charter school, they don't have to. I fail to understand why a parent would oppose a charter school in their neighborhood, given that they don't have to use it.

    As far as the 40 mil, as Charlie said, there are standard ways that non-profit groups have of raising or borrowing $$.

  • My impression of Mr. Rangel's comment was that he was talking about capital funds UNO has raised via various bonds that have been issued and fund raising efforts. I attended on Feburary 1, 2007 an all day conference sponsored by the Illinois Facilities Fund on Financing for charter schools.

    Part of the conference was a detailed discussion of about $7 million in Bonds that had been issued with the help of the IFF for UNO. These bonds are tax exempt, just like school district bonds.

    However, because charter schools do not have any taxing power and can lose their charters from school districts they are a greater risk than school districts therefore the interest rate on these bonds is generally higher than school districts would pay for similar bonds. There has been one charter bond default in NYC according to the experts at the conference.

    The various charter operators are rated by S&P. Mr. James Breeding from S&P explained the credit analysis approach used in looking at charters at the conference I attended. One factor that was a concern to me was that the charter was operating a maximum capacity in order to generate revenue and had a wait list. The other factor appeared to be expansion plans that would generate additional payments from the CPS.

    The reason this enrollment pressure was a concern was it has some impact on charter schools enrolling more severly disabled students, because their very presence in a classroom could create the need for a lower than normal teacher to student ratio. Moreover, the charter could experience increased costs that are not directly reimbursed by CPS for more involved disabled children that could impact the charter's cash reserves required to repay the bonds.

    In addition to these concerns I had very real concerns as a Chicago citizen who is not a member of the Catholic faith about some of the capital improvements that were being made to rented parochial schools without any contingency agreement for purchase by the charters. In effect the Catholic Church at the end of the rental agreement could occupy the school with the capital imporvements in place and return it to parochial status.

    I hope this clearly up some of the confusion on where these funds are coming from. By the way the reason I attended the conference was Access Living has on going concerns about charter schools being located in ADA non-compliant sites, particularly in rented parochial schools or commerical sites.

    I learned a great deal by attending this conference.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living

  • Rod, you said:

    "The reason this enrollment pressure was a concern was it has some impact on charter schools enrolling more severly disabled students, because their very presence in a classroom could create the need for a lower than normal teacher to student ratio. Moreover, the charter could experience increased costs that are not directly reimbursed by CPS for more involved disabled children that could impact the charter's cash reserves required to repay the bonds."

    I'm curious. Doesn't some of the $$ to pay for special ed come out of the Fed's money? Does any of that come to charter schools if they enroll special ed students? Also, I know if the parochial school has a disabled student, they get money from somewhere for the needed special ed. Does that come from CPS? Or from the state? What kind of expenditure would a charter school make for a special ed student that wouldn't be reimbursed?

    Are charters limited from specializing in students. Like say a charter school for the blind or deaf? I think these communities are frequently over-looked or forgotten in CPS, and I know for a fact that such students can be high-achieving and very successful if given the right supports. The small town high school I attended had a blind student. She was on the honor roll every semester and went on to college. She had a part time aide who dealt with the Braille translation and such.

  • Let me explain my concerns about capital improvements paid for by public funds to parochial schools without any contingency agreement for purchase by the charters. This concern applies not just to charters but also to rental deals between the CPS and the Catholic church as was correctly pointed out by a poster.

    The question of whether "Both types of funds, operational (rent) and capital are agreed to represent the value of occupying the facility. improvementment being made to Catholic facilities " is an interesting question. I would have to say that the market value of an unused Catholic school as a school facility is not high in a city with a declining number of children.

    The reality is the property these schools may sit on may be of great value, but as schools their value is not high. This is why for instance the British School of Chicago is building its own building and is not even considering spending capital on the Catholic School it has been located in up to now.

    The capital improvements being made to some of these sites are extensive and include life safety issues that would cause the city to close the sites if they were not done. The charter schools though bonds and other capital funds are making it possible for the Catholic Church to reopen schools five years down the line if a community has improved in social ecomonic status to the extent parents can afford to pay what a school like Old Saint Pat's is now charging.

    Now if we were living in Canada where the state pays for Catholic schooling just like it does public schooling this would be a non-issue, but here it is an issue. I believe that if there was contingency agreement for purchase by the charters or the CPS itself these bonded tax exempt capital projects would be more acceptable.

    Lastly, CPS pays charters $65,000 per special ed teacher if they elect to hire their own staff. However the student teacher ratio is established by CPS and not the charter schools. The charters can use CPS staff from a central office pool if they elect to do so and then do not have the special education teachers on their payrolls. The charters do not have to pay their special ed teachers $65,000 inclusive of salary and benefits. They can pay them what they want to even if they recieve $65,000 from CPS.

    This staffing remibursement however would not cover the costs of what is called in the special ed world "a low incidence child." A blind deaf student for example would cost a charter school far more than staff reimbursement costs, so would deaf students or students with significant cognitive disabilities.

    For students more frequently seen, such as learning disabled students a greater part of the total cost of the child to the school would be covered by the staffing reimbursement. I hope this explains to some of you our concerns relating to fiscal pressure being put on charters by debt for capital projects.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living

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