A week has passed since the Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association dissolved the Linear Leadership Academy board, leaving more questions than answers about what is ahead for the Shreveport charter school and who is in charge.
That isn't the only issue.
Who will run the school come August and how this will affect students and staffing at Linear are in question. The contract between New York-based EdisonLearning and the association was terminated because the school is projected to have a deficit of $300,000 to $350,000, according to an official notice from EdisonLearning. The company has not reclaimed operations at the school, and association President Wilbert Williams won't give specifics about the negotiations.
Repeated calls to Williams were not returned, but he has said his organization will not operate Linear…
"The Department of Education and BESE (state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) authorized this charter, and if Linear comes to an agreement with Edison, no action needs to be taken," said Rene Greer, the education department's communications director. "It's a community-driven leadership governance style. If that board or that charter organization feels like there needs to be changes and there are challenges, then they need to address those."
Added Chris Meyer, special adviser to state Superintendent Paul Pastorek, "All we are responsible for is understanding who is running the school. We have not been officially notified that any relationship between Edison and the neighborhood association is over with. We were informed the board governing Linear has been dissolved," and "the MLK Neighborhood Association is putting together a new board at the school…
Decisions made in the coming weeks could affect management at Linear, staffing and whether the school will continue operating under the current charter. School is set to start mid-August.
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LINEAR LEADERSHIP ACADEMY'S BOARD OUSTED, July 1, 2010, Shreveport (LA) Times
It took less than 10 minutes for Linear Leadership Academy's board to hear and digest the news Wednesday evening that their services were no longer needed.
Three of the board's six members were notified after hearing a memo from the Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association stating the charter's board would be dissolved, effective Wednesday.
"That board that is in place really tries to run everything, and that's the problem," said Wilbert Williams, board chairman of the neighborhood association. "We put the board in place, but we didn't think it would turn out the way it did."
As the charter holder, the neighborhood association has the authority to oust the board, said Williams, who added that the association's five-member board would take over temporarily.
The drastic change came on the same day the charter's education management company, EdisonLearning, terminated its contract.
Depending on whom you ask, you'll get a different answer about why the New York-based company packed up and left town this week.
Projected lack of finances and disagreements in management style and leadership between EdisonLearning and the board are among the varying responses…
In an official notice from EdisonLearning to the neighborhood association, the company projected the school will have a deficit of about $300,000 to $350,000. And under Linear's charter contract, "if the charter holder is unable to cure a budget variance by the last day of the school year" EdisonLearning can terminate the agreement.
State and federal money are the largest funding sources for the public charter school, and the $2.3 million Linear received in Minimum Foundation Program funding from the state was adjusted for a decrease in enrollment. Unless the charter can increase enrollment, which dropped from 273 last fall to 240 at the end of the year, state funding will continue to decrease.
According to the charter school contract, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, EdisonLearning's management fees were set at $400,000 for the 2009-10 year and would increase by $50,000 each year, up to $650,000 for the 2013-14 year…
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LINEAR WORKS TO MEND RELATIONSHIP WITH EDISON LEARNING, June 29, 2010, KTBS (Shreveport, LA)
SHREVEPORT, La -- Shreveport charter school Linear Leadership Academy is hoping to mend its relationship with Edison Learning, the company in charge of administrative duties at the north Shreveport school. The company is threatening to break its contract because of money issues.
Linear expects a $300,000 deficit next year because of declining enrollment and there are concerns Edison might not get full payment. Edison charged $450,000 for its service during the 2009-2010 school year.
Edison has sent notice it will not renew its three-year contract with the school and could pull out before the contract expires in two years.
Linear Principal Bill Minix is confident the school could continue operating without Edison on board.
"Those resources could be used more for the children and at the end of the day this school will receive enough funding through MFP (Minimum Foundation Program) funding and through other federal grants to run the school."
When Linear became a charter school last summer, the MLK Neighborhood Association hired Edison Learning to be in charge of things like setting curriculum, paying teachers and implementing monthly student assessments.
Edison and the school are meeting all week to try to solve their differences.
If Edison decides to go ahead and break its contract, the neighborhood association would have to go to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to get its charter reapproved.