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CMSD trains charter boards, managers


charter training
CMSD expanded its work with charter schools on Monday, hosting a five-hour training program for more than 50 charter board members and management company representatives.

The District conducted the training with three other charter school “authorizers,” or sponsors: the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, the Ohio Department of Education and the Toledo-based Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West.

The program covered effective governance, Ohio ethics law, state legislation and legal, compliance and liability issues faced by charters, which are publicly funded but privately managed. Presenters included Kate Essex of the nonprofit Charter Board Partners; Charles Y. Kidwell, a partner with the Porter Wright law firm; state Assistant Chief Deputy Auditor Marni A. Carlisle; and Susan A. Willeke, an administrator with the Ohio Ethics Commission.

Most of the state’s 65 authorizers, which can also include colleges or universities and other nonprofits,  sponsor fewer than 10 charters. Many of the operators are small and could benefit from learning about the move to tighten regulation of Ohio’s charter governing boards and management companies.

“A lot of those schools are mom-and-pop operations,” said Miles Caunin, sponsorship finance manager for the Fordham Foundation. “They certainly could find the training helpful, particularly in the environment we are about to enter. Accountability is the mantra.”

The Cleveland Plan, a blueprint for education reform in the city, calls for giving every child access to a quality education, regardless of the provider.

In contrast to other districts in the state, CMSD sponsors charters, providing oversight to ensure the schools meet high standards.

The Board of Education agreed last month to sponsor two more charters, bringing the total to 10. The District partners with seven other charters, a less formal relationship that does not include sponsorship.

Charters that the District sponsors or partners with divide 1 mill of a 15-mill school levy voters approved in 2012. CMSD is the only District in Ohio that shares local tax money with charter schools.

“We think CMSD’s collaboration with charters is fantastic,” said Kathryn Mullen-Upton, vice president of sponsorship for the Fordham Foundation. “It would be great to see more of it with other districts.”