Strong academics have never been a concern for Old Town Academy, a San Diego Unified charter school in Middletown. Yet the operational concerns – the practical matters of actually running a school – have posed challenges the school has yet to iron out. They even boiled over in dramatic fashion at the end of last school year, with a former principal being fired.
Mario Koran digs into the issues at the school and presents them as microcosm of charter school issues in general: Just because school leaders understand what students need in the classroom doesn’t mean they necessarily understand the larger administrative burdens that come with running a school.
Old Town sought help from a charter school management group based some 400 miles away, but that ended up causing trouble. Last year, the academy was eligible to receive bond money that could help the school secure a permanent facility, instead of leasing. But that eligibility evaporated in a dustup that involved police.
San Diego Unified’s board recently renewed the schools charter so it can keep operating, and the new principal and others are optimistic things are on the upswing. They just need to take to heart the lessons the whole ordeal has forced.
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