Sunday, April 05, 2009

Minn Lawmakers Debate Charter School Accountability

This from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press:

Analysis finds that pay and credentials vary widely

Milo Cutter is a pioneer. She helped start the nation's first charter school, City Academy, in St. Paul in 1992 and still runs it. Her salary as director is $34,000, and she gets additional pay for teaching.

Terry Tofte is a former superintendent brought in to launch the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists in 2005. He manages operations but is not directly involved in the classroom. He's paid $124,200.

The number of charter schools is growing. After a slow start, there are 152 in Minnesota. Six more have been approved for next year. Their success is often determined by who is chosen to lead them.

The Pioneer Press reviewed the contracts that 44 east metro charter schools have with their directors and found they are not created equal. There is a wide variation not just in salary — with Cutter and Tofte at the low and high ends — but also in benefits and credentials.

Among the findings:

  • The average salary for directors was about $78,000.
  • Eight make more than $100,000.
  • Directors receive an average of 27 days of personal time (including sick, vacation and personal days).
  • 31 of the 44 charter schools are led by people with no superintendent's license or principal's license.
Charters are public schools and set their own terms with their directors. Many view that independence as their chief strength. But 32 such schools in Minnesota have failed since 1992. And considering charters get more than $225 million in state aid each year, some officials are saying it's time for new standards...

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