Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke says he wants an independent party %% to evaluate Baltimore's experimental Stadium School before a decision is made on whether to extend its five-year contract. %%
%% The ultimate decision, he added, will be made by a future school board rather than the current board, which will be disbanded in coming months in a reorganization required by state law to improve the city's schools.
Jay Gillen, the school's principal, declined to comment.
Operated by parents and teachers with city financing, the school opened three years ago with an agreement to meet all state standards for school performance by its fifth year, or close.
The charter school recently was audited by the city schools administration. Presented to the city school board last month, that audit says it is "highly unlikely" that the school will meet its goal on that timetable, and recommends that the school increase the hours of English, math and science taught and change its curriculum and its grading practices.
School supporters have responded that they believe they will meet the standards.
"I knew there was going to be controversy over this, because the assessment that I got from the Stadium School supporters differed from that that I got from the school system," Schmoke said during an interview this week.
"It seems to me we aren't going to be able to resolve these differences, and it's probably going to require an agreement between the administration and the school that there may need to be a third-party, independent evaluation of the school."
Schmoke said he wants the Stadium School to have its full contract period to try to fulfill its pledges, and added: "Either they meet the goals that they established, or the school will cease to be operated -- that is the essence of a charter school.
"My enthusiasm for the Stadium School is based in the fact that a group of parents and teachers set standards for the school and agreed to be held accountable," he said. "If they meet them, we should support the continuation of the school, and I think that's going to be the standard for other schools that we have talked about creating."
The school system has invited 10 nonprofit and community groups to develop charter schools.
Schmoke added, "The message that I've tried to convey is that the Stadium School is not a permanent institution at this point. It still has to prove that it can meet its goals. I made it clear that they will be held to the standards they have set."
Pub Date: 4/16/97 %%