Readers of the Columbus Dispatch were treated to a recent report showing that board members of a North Side charter school asked their management company to reduce a $700,000 per year rent payment to a subsidiary so they could free up more money for things like reading materials, a school nurse and teacher pay. The response from the school’s management company, Virginia-based Imagine Schools, was tone-deaf and totally inappropriate:
An official with Imagine Schools Inc. suggested that the board “celebrate” teachers in other ways, such as having cake for them at the next board meeting….
The person who favors cake over compensation is Amy Buttke, Executive Vice President for Ohio Imagine Schools. Despite the blistering over her ‘let-them-eat-cake’ comment, Ms. Buttke continues to insist that the Dispatch got it all wrong. And to make her point, she sent a two-page letter to “Imagine School Parents and Teachers’’ that she says is intended to correct the record.
It contains several Big Lies. They include:
- CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE REQUIRED TO MEET AND EXCEED THE SAME ACCOUNTABILITY STANDARDS OF TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS ….
That is incorrect. According to an analysis by the highly regarded and non-partisan Ohio Legislative Service Commission, Ohio state law contains over 150 references that don’t apply to charters but do apply to traditional public schools.
- “…WE ARE MAKING A REAL DIFFERENCE IN PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE EDUCATION FOR THE 8,000 STUDENTS WE SERVE.’
Wonder how she defines “effective.” As ProgressOhio documented in a recent study, nearly all Imagine schools in Ohio fail in their basic mission to educate kids. All but one received a D or F on the Performance Index of the most recent state report card. The lone C went to the Imagine Groveport Community School.
- ALTHOUGH THERE HAVE BEEN QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT SOME OF THE LEASES ASSOCIATED WITH OUR FACILITIES, THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THAT A SCHOOL REQUIRES A BUILDING.
Questions raised about ‘some.’ As the Dispatch told us, these abusive leases are a nationwide problem:
Imagine Schools’ real-estate deals have faced scrutiny in Washington, D.C., Nevada, Florida, Pennsylvania and Indiana. After an investigation by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlighting such deals and poor academic performance, the Missouri Board of Education shut down six Imagine charter schools in 2012.