Monday, March 20, 2017

Finding the Villain in School Costs

A student walk-out and a new blog call attention to school budget woes, but where does the problem lie? Is it because of charter schools? State policies?

Blogger "Anonymous Gadfly" points to charter schools and wants a survey of parents who have chosen to send their children to charter schools. The blog also has a link to a news article about possible changes to state policies that could make it easier to expand charter schools.

I admit I have not been able to cover school board meetings, but I would like to call Plainfielders' attention to the mass of information already on the state website regarding local charter schools. The city currently has five charter schools with 1,155 students in four and one apparently just starting with kindergarten. The pattern has been to start with selected grade levels and then to build enrollment. For example, Queen City Academy Charter School began in the 2000-01 school year with 72 students and for the 2014-15 school year had 248 students in grades K-8. Union County TEAMS Charter School is working toward an enrollment of 360 students in grades K-12.

Plainfield still has the only charter schools in Union County. Two are new and have not posted performance statistics. Two previous ones are no longer in operation. The state directory currently lists five in operation.

Between the state profiles of these charter schools and their own websites, there is a lot of information on hand already. See the state Performance Report for Queen City Academy as an example.

The charter school issue and budget problems are not new. See this 2006 "Budget Crisis" post.



  1. Charter Schools wouldn't have a chance in Plainfield, if the public schools were doing what they were supposed to be doing. So if you want to start somewhere, take a good hard look at the public schools. Something is not being done if parents are pulling their kids out of the public schools.

  2. The school system in Plainfield is just a very tragic and sad state of affairs and sadly it will take longer to resolve the issues without a unified board of education. I don't mean unified in that they all blindly agree but rather unified in finding solutions and being open to making the changes necessary to improve the local educational system. The campbell's, even without Wilma, control the board for the most part and the direction of the board is one of status quo and old school ideas. Money in education is always important but the money troubles here are primarily self made - they still receive more per pupil than most schools in the state and they still receive financing, 10% roughly, when children opt out for a charter school.

    I don't want to paint the Campbell's as entirely to blame for the lack of progress or improvement but it is safe to say that we aren't better off with their approach and drastic change needs to be made. We can't keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. And if we do, we really shouldn't be shocked or complain about the lack of progress.

    1. Where have you been? Have you been to any BOE meetings lately? It is Mapp's team that is in control of the BOE. Get your facts straight.
      It is all about getting contracts for his campaign contributors.

    2. The fact is - Mapp has 4 voting member on the board, the Campbell’s still have 5 like mined people on the board they controlled. The fact is - the saturation of Charter Schools in Plainfield happened on Wilma and Anna Belin-Pyles watch. It’s true Mapp did support 3 candidates last year and they only been in position for a short period of time, let’s not start with the blame game so quickly. They seem to be moving in the right direction. It’s difficult at best to make the necessary changes when you have people like the Campbell’s and Rivers interfering in the process. The recent student walk out was no coincidence, it appeared to be very much planned by someone with a certain amount of influence. The give-away was having the students march to city hall instead of the board office. Shame on you for using the children for your political games.
      I agree wholeheartedly we do need to make drastic changes and I believe this will happen in due time. For now the most noticeable change is the absence of Ann Belin-Pyles. No one person should be pulling the string of board members or using the lives of our children and their future for political gain. Like the comment above, we need a unified board with the same desire to do what’s right for the children above anything else. Appointments and contracts should be secondary based solely on need, cost and quality.

    3. Anon 11:44 - indeed I have been to meetings - and Mapp's supporters do not, in fact, control the board. They may control the meetings because they gained the board presidents' position - but they don't have 5 consistent votes. So if you want to be literal about who controls the "meetings" - yes, Mapp's supporters control the meetings.

  3. Where was the outrage when Wilma and her cronies voted to have a separate election that cost $117,000? Didn't anyone realize some entity in the school system would make up for that loss. That was a blatant misuse of education funding. But Mr Ottman has apparently been advising the board of shortfalls for a long time under Wilma's watch and Anna Belin Pyles is supposed to be so good with crunching the numbers. Now people want to blame the acting superintendent while Anna conveniently takes a leave. It's a waste of time to try to blame the mayor. That is merely a distraction. Who will turn a blind eye to the facts.