Why consider a conversion school?
Springboro Board of Education member
The Springboro School Board is examining the opportunity of re-opening the Jonathan Wright building as a Conversion School.
A Conversion School is Ohio's term for a charter school sponsored by a public school.The Springboro School board and the Warren County Educational Service Center are the only entities that can sponsor a Conversion School in the Springboro School District. A Conversion School is not a private school. Its existence and funding comes from the public school system.
So why do it? We have an excellent school system already.
Let's answer that with some questions. Why do we allow Springboro HS students to attend the Warren County Career Center? Why do we suggest some kids attend the Warren County Alternative school? Why do Miamisburg and West Carrollton School Districts sponsor conversion schools?
The answer in each case is those schools offer either a different curriculum or a different environment than the traditional public school, and the parents believe the alternative is better for their child. So even in an excellent school district like Springboro, some students and parents are looking for alternatives. One size doesn't fit all.
What might this school offer? That's a matter for an extended discussion with the community. One possibility that intrigues me is to create a classical education program as some private schools offer. Another idea might be to move away from traditional grade levels and promote children to the next level once they have mastered the skill or subject. After all, kids don't all learn and develop at the same pace. There are many other possibilities and considerations.
Would a Springboro conversion school drain resources and put our excellent system at risk? We simply can't allow that to happen. The conversion school concept only works if 1) it is cost neutral, 2) it meets a need that can't be better addressed by a change in the traditional school, and 3) it does no harm to our already outstanding schools.
Can it be done? At this point we don't know. Initial indications are that it may be financially feasible, but many questions remain. Perhaps Springboro Schools will be able to offer another alternative for students and parents without increasing taxes. We need a thorough evaluation and that would be the purpose for establishing a committee and hiring a consultant if the board is inclined to do that. We won't know until somebody looks at it, and I believe it is worth a look!
I've heard the rumors about shutting down half of the high school curriculum to fund the conversion school and allegations that a board member might financially benefit from a conversion school. These are nonsense. There is a big state and national debate around charter schools and school choice. However, the decision about this school is a local one and our focus needs to be on our schools, community, and our kids. We can't be afraid to investigate a change that could potentially benefit many students and parents.