Charter school strives to open

County panel says progress report on Chesapeake will determine its fate

June 18, 2006|By ANICA BUTLER | ANICA BUTLER,SUN REPORTER

Board members of Chesapeake Science Point Charter School are confident that the school will get the approval of the Anne Arundel County school board this week.

Last month, the school system gave the troubled charter school a list of problems that must be remedied in order for the school to open in the fall. On Wednesday, the school board will hear a report on the charter school's progress.

"I think we have everything pretty much lined up," said Spear Lancaster, spokesman for the Hanover school.

County Board President Konrad Wayson said that although the board and the county school system have been working with the charter school's founders to keep the school open, what happens next will depend on what the report says and how much progress the school has made.

"At this point, I don't know what could happen," said Wayson, who added that he has not seen the report on the school's progress. "It could be anything."

Chesapeake Science Point, which opened in the fall, focuses on math, science and technology. Although the school had some stumbles at the start of the school year, the bigger problems began in March, when police removed then-director Jon Omural from the school.

Omural was placed on leave by school system officials after personnel complaints and union grievances were filed against him by three teachers, who were reassigned to other county schools. Omural resigned.

Those actions led to an investigation into the management and operating procedures of the school, and, ultimately, to the "letter of cure" that was given to the charter school's board last month.

Lancaster said that architects have drawn new plans for how the school's classrooms can be divided within the rented industrial park space the school inhabits. The fire marshal's office visited the school last week to make sure all was in order.

The Chesapeake Science Point board has two candidates to take over the operation of the school: Fatih Kandil, who most recently ran a charter school in Ohio, and Judith Henry, a retired Prince George's County principal. However, Lancaster acknowledged that Kandil does not hold certification in Maryland to be a school administrator, an issue that also was a problem with Omural.

As far as the bookkeeping and paperwork issues raised by the school system, Lancaster said he thinks that those are in order.

Lancaster emphasized that Chesapeake Science Point's board members, founders and parents are doing everything they can to be in compliance with the school system's regulations.

A survey of teachers and parents at the school shows that most are satisfied and would like to see the school remain open, he said. Only one teacher is not returning next year, and of 103 students who ended the year there, five have said they will not be returning. The school will take in an additional 50 students in the fall, as it expands to sixth grade.

But Wayson said that the school's finances remain his top concern.

"Do they have enough money to support the school?" Wayson said. "... That's something I'll be concerned about."

anica.butler@baltsun.com

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