City school board still undecided about Hopkins-run school

Fate of Baltimore Talent Development High School still in flux

March 12, 2013|Erica L. Green

The Baltimore City school board remained deadlocked Tuesday on whether to renew the contract for Baltimore Talent Development High School, run by the Center for Social Organization of Schools at the Johns Hopkins University, extending a decision that was already deferred one month due to an apparent impasse.

Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso recommended severing ties with the high-profile organization based on an intensive contract renewal process that scrutinized more than two dozen schools, such as charters, that are run by external operators.

The board voted to renew most the contracts last month, but did not accept the packaged fate -- a contract denial and a closure -- of others: Baltimore Talent Development, Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy-East and the Baltimore Freedom Academy.

The Sun detailed some of the challenges these schools faced, and their sides of the contract-renewal process, in a story that can be found here.

On Tuesday, the school board voted to continue its move toward closing the Baltimore Freedom Academy, whose operators were slated to leave the school at the end of the year.

And while the operators of Bluford will also lose their charter license at the end of the school year, the board voted Tuesday to allow the school to operate as a traditional school, serving all grade levels, at least through the 2013-2014. District officials said the school, originally recommended to move toward closure, could remain open because there was a high demand for its all-male programming.

But a majority of the board could not agree on whether Hopkins should remain the operators of Talent Development or whether the school should remain open beyond 2014. The decision was tabled from a Feb. 12 meeting, which you can read more about here.

Alonso maintained his recommendation Tuesday to cancel Hopkins' contract to run the school, but supported it serving grades 9-12 through the 2014 school year -- it was originally slated to stop accepting new freshman classes and move toward closure.

The amended measure did not garner enough votes to pass, and a counter motion to extend a three-year-contract to the school didn't either.

It has been tabled until the next board meeting.

"My recommendation remains not to renew the contract," Alonso said, adding that he would have to consult with the system's legal department about the next steps.

"The vote doesn't impact operations -- today," he added. "We will continue this difficult conversation we've been having about standards..."

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