I Support the Madison Studio School

Taxpayers, parents and students, particularly those who will enter our schools over the next few decades will benefit from more local choices if the Madison Studio School can lift off, soon.
The Madison School District Administration’s recent history has been marked by a reduction in choice for parents and students and generally a monolithic approach to curriculum. Examples include the rush toward one size fits all curriculum in high schools [East High School and West High School’s English 9/10], the annual attempt to kill elementary strings and the ongoing implementation of scripted curriculum such as Connected Math, among others. This has occurred despite flat overall enrollment and growing district budgets.
The Madison Studio School initiative rises out of the successful near westside Preschool of the Arts family. Learn more by visiting their website along with these articles.
Lifting off is made more difficult by the Madison School District’s structural deficit, which further limits annual increases in the $331M+ budget.
I hope that The School Board, Administration and Studio School proponents can mutually find a way to say yes, rather than, as Scott Milfred points out, starting with the usual same service reasons to say no.
Over time, I believe the Studio School will grow and spawn additional charter initiatives, perhaps offering middle and high school students more options.
For me, this is simply a governance issue. I think movement away from the typical monolithic approach will benefit our students and community over the long haul.
A closing data point: Appleton’s public schools offer 13 charter options, compared to Madison’s two.
David Cohen makes some useful counter-points in his comments below.

28 thoughts on “I Support the Madison Studio School”

  1. I don’t support the Studio School. We need the space at Emerson Elementary to accomodate the overflow from Lakeview Elementary. We need to spend what little resources we have to take care of our current students in high poverty, near East and Northside schools. If the Studio School had an actual plan to educate a student population that reflected the current district-wide racial and socio-economic demographics, it *might* ease my mind; instead, we’ll see the have’s, not the have-nots, enroll. I watched their presentation to the BoE. There wasn’t a single family of color there. They want a contract with the MMSD, one which will cost taxpayers more money, and what happens if they fail to get federal grants? OUR children will pay the price. As much as I’d enjoy seeing a charter school in the East Attendance area, this is the wrong place at the wrong time.
    This has nothing to do with the decrease in elementary strings, connected math or the high school redesign, period. Anyone using that line of reasoning is just grasping at straws. I’d urge Board members to spend any money that might be earmarked for the Studio School on current programs which are at risk to be cut. Failure to do just that could be political suicide when voters hit the ballot boxes in the next few years.

  2. One way to do this is to start it off as a pilot project with a community partnership, rather than a full fledged charter school. That way the District has a bit more control. Research (maybe by UW-Madison ed school) could be conducted through a one or two year time frame. Clearly, if students are not progressing adequately, you would terminate the pilot project. If the school is successful, you can spin it off as a charter school or magnet program.

  3. First, let me clarify that there are a few families from Preschool of the Arts involved in The Studio School initiative, but most are not – in fact, most are from the east side, including some Emerson area parents.
    Yes, Mr. Cohen, you’re right – MMSD does need to think in new ways about educating children of color and children in low-income families. There remains a huge achievement gap between white & non-white, rich & poor. In fact, The Studio School IS a way to do this – research shows the educational approach that will be used in The Studio School bridges this achievement gap!
    It’s true that our planning group isn’t as diverse as we’d like – but it’s more diverse than you might think (keep in mind you can’t tell ethnicity or income just by looking). But how often do people of color come to BOE meetings anyway? Our group alone can’t be expected to overcome barriers such as language, transportation difficulties, lack of childcare, plus myriad other cultural differences that existed long before The Studio School was on the BOE agenda.
    Because we know underrepresented groups have difficulty coming to meetings like these, we have been going to them – especially over the last few weeks – meeting with people in neighborhood centers and homes around the city. And we have been amazed by the positive response. These families know the district is missing the boat when it comes to their kids, and they think this school could provide some new opportunities.
    And remember, the grant money spent on this school CAN’T be spent any other way. Without The Studio School, we lose this opportunity to provide school options to families who wouldn’t get them otherwise. The grant money is “competitive” officially, but it is essentially non-competitive because there is so much grant money available to charter schools and because there is no other proposal for a charter school in Madison at this time.

  4. Please bear in mind I certainly don’t object to what the Studio School stands for- but i truly worry about how you will get the necessary buy-in from low income families and parents of color. And I really don’t see how you’re going to get resources like Special Ed Assistants and Educational Assistants without taking them from the VERY NEEDY surrounding elementary schools. I mean, the MMSD is in crisis mode when it comes to providing these resources, and, frankly, there are lots of community members who will be upset if they lose such resources to a charter school. The other thing that bothers me is that I have yet to see a community outpouring that supports the Studio School. Usually, on the East side, when a great educational idea comes forward, folks flock to it. There is absolutely ZERO buzz on the north and east sides, which is troubling because, as I mentioned in my other post, many folks would love to see a charter school in our part of town- every other high school attendance area has a charter or magnet school (Lafollette has Nuestro Mundo, West has Wright and Memorial has Spring Harbor Middle). What is holding the community back from widespread vocal support?

  5. I have mixed feelings about the Studio School, but per Donald’s suggestion, I’m not sure a one-to-two year study of the school’s effectiveness is a long enough time frame to adequately assess its performance. Most educators — be they UW-Madison education policy folks, adminstrators, or teachers — would tell you that new curricula (and in my mind, that’s essentially what the Studio School is proposing) take several years at a minimum to guage their effectiveness.
    It’s one of the true dilemmas facing school districts with the entire charter-school movement — it takes a long time (arguably as much as half of a child’s 13-year educational career) to adequately assess whether the schools work or not. There is a huge amount of trust involved on the part of the school board/administration in taking a leap of faith with charter school proponents who argue that, in the end, children will benefit. It’s one reason I’d advocate for a fairly vigorous review process of any proposed charter school.

  6. Mr. Cohen,
    I am an east side parent and disagree with your assertion that there is no talk on the north and east sides about the Studio School. In fact, I know of parents in both of these areas who are intrigued by the proposed charter school. It takes time for information about initiatives such as this one to get to busy parents. After reading the Isthmus article in November, I was personally motivated to volunteer my time to help get the word out so that more parents were aware of this idea and could weigh in. My only regret is that the idea wasn’t on my radar screen sooner. I guess that as a working parent of two, I’ve found it challenging to keep up on all of the school issues facing MMSD . . .
    I understand the fear about starting something new when the MMSD budget is so tight. But remember that the Studio School has the potential to bring in $450,000 in grant funding over its first two years of existence. The first year, the school would would be serving 44 students; the grant funds more than offset what the school’s start-up costs would be. I think that before we decide that our budget crisis means we can’t entertain a new idea, we need to carefully consider how Nuestro Mundo has been a cost-effective model for MMSD (its operating structure is quite similar to how the Studio School would be).
    And by the way, although it may not be obvious from my appearance, I am a minority and I attended the December BOE meeting when the Studio School proposal was presented.
    K. Navarro-Haffner

  7. Yes, as Kristina said, people on the east and north sides ARE hearing about this. It may not be an “outpouring,” though, as Mr. Cohen noted, with standing room only at the Doyle building. I have no trouble conceding that. There may be other reasons for this, too, but I can explain at least one factor…
    Our best shot at getting an “outpouring” of support would be going to the schools and talking to families. We’ve tried that in many ways, but we can’t get “in” to do it. Principals’ hands are tied. One principal was eager to meet with us, but then the district told us not to do it. Since then, principals have just directed us back to the district when we’ve approached them. And PTO organizers who want us to tell parents about TSS are uncomfortable (understandably) letting us speak unless the principal can “officially” support or at least recognize us, so their hands are tied too.
    So, we have done our best, but there are many barriers to getting that “outpouring” – though I am confident we will have more visible support from a wider range of people over the next week(s).

  8. I’m glad to hear that Kristina. Does Emerson have the capacity to take 44 Studio School students along with 60 Lakeview transfers? That’s a very important question and we need to get an answer for that. Hey, as long as the kids fit AND no cuts are made for existing MMSD students, I am all for the Studio School..I just haven’t seen evidence that this will happen, and I hate to see the BoE commit to financing anything extra prior to their committing to financing what we currently have.

  9. David,
    I think the MMSD website ought to be able to provid this information. The information from the task forces’s work included capacity for the schools, and the district provides student enrollment data annually by school and they have that information for this school year.
    I do not understand why there is such a barrier to sharing administration. Why would School Board want to pay for 1 FTE principal and administrative staffing that is the same whether your school is at capacity or well below capacity when faced with a $10 million cut? The more students in a school the less cost per student for fixed costs for that school and for administrative costs for that school. Also, the Studio School would have and Nuestro Mundo does have their own boards overseeing their charters.
    Re the Special Education and ELL support mentioned. I looked at the finances this way when I met with Nuestro Mundo supporters several years ago when they were up against similar arguments from the district. If it is Madison students who enroll in the Studio School, then these children are entitled to all the same services other Madison public school children receive – each child “brings” money to their public education from sources such as the state, federal, property taxes. The issue to me is what is needed over and above what would normally be provided to a Madison public school child and does the grant cover these increased expenses? The Studio School representatives worked very hard this fall trying to get clarification on the dollars, which would go directly to the district from the state for charter students; but, when I looked at this information, they had not received the needed information from district administration (in late October/early November). Perhaps that has changed.
    Along the same lines of thinking on finances, if a child is from another district and they are able to enroll in this or any other charter school in Madison – they would bring dollars to the district for general, special ed if needed, ELL.
    The willingness of Nuestro Mundo and the Studio School to be embedded in an existing school is to save dollars for themselves and to assist in filling “emptier” schools. I’m sure they would want to work with the School Board, principals and others to put their charter in the school that meets their needs but also the needs of the district and its space planning.

  10. So I did some research this afternoon and found out that if Long Range Planning decides to send Lakeview students to Emerson, there could still be enough room to accomodate the intial 44 Studio School 1st and 2nd graders. However, the Studio School wouldn’t be able to grow very much in the coming years (maybe by about 50 students tops) before Emerson would be over capacity. Plus, this only applies to a plan to move Brentwood neighborhood kids from Lakeview to Emerson and not the plan to pair Emerson and Lakeview nor the plan to move a larger group of students to Emerson.
    It’s not the fault of those of you who are supporting the Studio School effort; rather, i find it incredulous that the Board and administration haven’t mentioned this in any of their proposed scenarios to alleviate Lakeview overcrowding for next fall.

  11. David,
    I’m not clear on something. How was this handled last year during the discussions that took place on the school planning task forces. Did the eastside group look at any of the options you’ve mentioned? What were the recommendations? I don’t remember, and I was having trouble finding this information on the district’s website.
    barb s

  12. Barb – Some options for relieving overcrowding at Lake View were suggested within the East taskforce, but at that time the Lake View community did not want to make any boundary changes and agreed that they could handle the overcrowding by making some adjustments within the school. One year and another 30+ students later, the Lake View overcrowding situation is worse than projected and no longer able to be reasonably accommodated within the school. Some of the options proposed by the administration are similar to ideas from last year’s task force. Emerson is the closest school to the northside and in the best position to accept any overflow of students from that area.

  13. At all of the boundary task force meetings I attended, the Lakeview issues were kind of back-burner, and LRP followed the Lakeview community’s desire to deal with overcrowding internally. However, this year, Lakeview came in so high over capacity that, with projections showing even higher numbers in the next 5 years, something must be done now. Hence the need to move one, if not two, neighborhoods out of Lakeview- as well as a plethora of other “ideas”, including pairing Lakeview with Emerson or Gompers, etc. as detailed on the MMSD website now.

  14. No Barb. The administration and Long Range Planning made a lengthy presentation on the northside on Jan. 16th and they are taking input directly from the affected elementary school communities. They will then make a recommendation to the board. Remember, there has been a dialogue about these boundary/overcrowding issues for the last 3 years within the near east and northside communities. At any rate, it appears the Board wants more details about the Studio School, and Emerson isn’t the only place it might land- especially if Emerson fills up with kids via boundary changes.

  15. Geez, I’d be willing to bet if Lakeview were overcrowded on the West side, the administration would want to build a new school. Instead, the administration wants to close an east side school.
    Now that the refendum passed to build a west side school, why isn’t the administration looking to close a near west side school?
    Why do I think that the west side gets more resources from the MMSD than the east side?

  16. Thanks for the information, David. Based upon last year’s work, and the preceeding long-range task forces, I figured something in the community would be underway, which would make sense.

  17. One point raised by Board members on Monday night was the number of children coming into some Districts grew as a result of developing charter schools, as much as 700, I believe. If indeed enrollment numbers increased – in some cases as high as 700 children, that means a substantial increase in money into the district as well as the potential for better utilization of our emptier schools.
    At $5,000 per child, 700 students is $3.5 million dollars – significant resources. At $10,000 per child that is $7 million.
    Other districts facing revenue caps and declining enrollments have explored charter schools and how they might fit into their district. However, our Superintendent seems to have an adversarial relationship with groups proposing charters, insisting on one principal and one secretary for any imbedded charter starting at 40 or so students. This stacks the financial decks against a charter school, and I wonder why we are paying for 1 FTE principal at a school that is underutilized compared to other elementary schools and not looking for ways to lower those costs and keep 1 FTE principal at a school.
    Both Nuestro Mundo and the Studio School want to use union teachers. If these charter schools are not taking money away from the district’s budget, but are “revenue neutral” as the board wants, and could potentially bring money via students, private donations, different grants into the district, fill “emptier” schools, I’m don’t see the short-term downside.
    Change and innovation can be hard for some, especially in the current tight financial times, so I support being careful. However, Nuestro Mundo started small and the Studio School will be starting small, the charter agreements are renewable, which provides time for assessments.

  18. One MAJOR note of irony: The Emerson community isn’t very happy with the organizers of the Studio School. Part of this lies in the Milfred editorial, which intimates that Emerson parents “proposed” hosting the charter school. There have also been accusations that proponents of the Studio School entered kindergarten classes at Emerson under false pretenses and sent representatives to the Emerson Family Fun Night to probe parents about the school- instead of just being up front and having a formal meeting with parents and staff. More than a few parents noticed these representatives “scoping out” parts of Emerson that were closed off during their family fun night. This type of sneaking around and back-handed approach has really infuriated a large swath of the Emerson community, and I can’t say I blame them. The irony lies in the fact that everyone gets so upset when the MMSD administration works issues “under the radar” (witness the East High TAP/AP mess this past fall)- and now here we have an outside organization that can’t even give the Emerson staff and parents the respect to approach them up front and above-board.
    Why would the Studio School organizers (however inadvertently) create such ill will in the very building they seek to occupy? In speaking with Emerson parents, many of them like the idea of their own children being availed of the opportunity to attend something like the Studio School, but they feel as though they 1) won’t get that opportunity and 2) are so aghast at how this is transpiring that they are completely turned off.

  19. Dear Mr. Cohen,
    The Studio School organizers are very concerned about what is happening at Emerson and you are absolutely correct in being baffled by this situation.
    1)We have wanted to be up front and open about this since the very beginning but this was prevented by MMSD prohibition. We were told in no uncertain terms not to talk with the principal and felt, out of respect for her, we should not approach parents.
    2) Emerson parents approached us after the Isthumus article came out mentioning Emerson and Lowell Schools as possible sites.
    3) I met with a small group of Emerson parents, at their request, to share information about The Studio School concept and the chartering process. Some of them have been very involved and supportive of this project since that meeting.
    4) A major aspect of charter schools in general, and The Studio School in particular, is the desire to give parents a more active voice in their children’s education. This is new to the district and families. We are learning how to do it together.
    5) We have not, and do not, encourage sneaky infiltration but we do want to know how Emerson parents feel about this. So what was perhaps a genuine desire to communicate turned into something that appeared to be “sneaky.” On the contrary, we want to put this process into the open and into the hands of all of the stakeholders (especially parents). And we also respect the responsibilities and functions of the princiapl and MMSD administrators. This is a difficult to negotiate.
    6) Parents are hesitant to speak openly about The Studio School because it has, unfortuantely and uneccesarily, become a devisive situation due in large part to the impeded flow of information. It has been forced underground and behind the scenes. This doesn’t feel very positive or healthy, does it?
    There has to be a way that we can do this better and get the information out to parents so we can alleviate the anxiety created by the lack of information and subsequent speculation. (We have actually reserved some space on the east side to accomodate possible meetings next week.)
    Members of our group are very frustrated and concerned about what is happening to families at Emerson School. We have been excited about the possibility of partnering with your school and the families there. However, there are other schools under consideration as well. I am sure that we all have the same interests at heart…educating our precious children…and we can work this out in a more effective way. We welcome suggestions as to how this can be done.

  20. I appreciate your honesty about this situation Nancy. I think what you have to understand is that the Emerson community has had a very tough time of it the past 3 years. Between principal turnover, high poverty rates, being targeted by the Board (as well as certain west side communities) for closure, and now The Studio School situation, these families are living on very uneasy ground. Perhaps, as the Studio School (or any charter) proposal moves forward, there should not be a specific site included. That way, once approval is granted for a charter, THEN it becomes the Board’s responsibility to site the school.

  21. Great points, David. I can’t possibly understand the experiences Emerson families have had over the past few years…but I sincerely empathize. I am impressed by the reports from families and staff members regarding the progress that is being made. Whatever school we would be housed in, we would hope that The Studio School would be viewed as an opportunity for new educational choices for children.
    I think I mentioned that it’s my understanding that Emerson School is one of many possible sites. And the site would not be determined until after the board votes on the proposal. This has always been a decision to be made by the district administrators and the board. But this doesn’t preclude families from having a voice to be considered when making the determination.
    That said, we are trying to offer parents access to information so they can form opinions based on accurate information along with opportunities to express their opinions in a constructive and respectful way. We have a website (www.madisonstudioschool.org) that offers a lot of information about The Studio School with links to other info sources. We can also be contacted through this website. And the school board is very accessible through their website. Also, there is the public forum at the beginning of school board meetings that is available if someone wants to make sure that their voice is heard. In fact, there is a meeting this Monday at 5:00 that will address The Studio School proposal. Members of the planning group are also happy to meet with parent groups if we are invited to do this.

  22. The logistics, money, and the potential of bringing additional students into the district are important in considering the Studio School, but quality of the educational component is a driving issue for me.
    Dissatisfaction with current schools (for their kids) drives parents to charter schools or other alternatives in the hope that their children will benefit. When things don’t seem to be working, people will often grasp at any promise.
    Proponents for one side or another will issue studies proving charters are better than public schools, other studies show the opposite. Of course, the answer is some schools seem to be better than others dependent on speculated but unknown factors. Not a surprise!
    Would the Studio School work better than, say, Mendota Elementary?
    Appleton has 13 charter schools for a 15,000 student population; about 10% are in charter schools according to WINSS in 2005-2006. Renaissance Art is one. So is the combination school Odyessy-Magellan, which accepts only kids who score >3 stdev above the mean (it had 54 students in 2005-2006, 91 in 2004-5). Also, there is the Classical School, which is a back-to-basic’s 3R’s school with about 400 students.
    Are the kids doing better in these charter schools than they would have if they had stayed in the non-charter public schools? Is this question relevant — maybe making parents and kids happy with choice is all that is important. Are these schools cost effective? What are the trade-offs for the Appleton school district students as a whole?
    Previous comments raising concern about the Studio School’s access by children of color and poverty are important, but so is its effectiveness.
    There is a statement by Lauren Cunningham that explicitly promises that the achievement gaps can be closed: “The Studio School IS a way to do this – research shows the educational approach that will be used in The Studio School bridges this achievement gap!” I would want to see those studies. But I want to know what kids and families will do best in such a school?
    The current mantra du jour, bandied about, is “one size fits all”, whenever educational curricula and pedagogy is discussed, usually in the context of heterogeneous groupings. There is agreement that not all kids learn as effectively under all approaches, and flexibility is really not an option — we don’t have the resources (teacher skills, money, material, etc). In any case, I would expect the answer to degree of benefit would fit a bell curve. That is, every approach is a trade-off that needs to be made.
    So, it’s not an idle question asking, for any given approach, what are the characteristics of students who will benefit and to what degree.
    Reggio Emilia is a very wealthy district in Italy; does an approach that works in a wealthy district work in a non-wealthy district with tight resources?
    But, the U.S. is not Italy. We have, for better or worse, stricter standards, attempts at accountability, licensed teachers. In Reggio Emilia, preschool and elementary teachers are not well-trained, there is heavy support from the community required, and ample resources — there is significant parental involvement. How has the US version of the Reggio Emilia approach been changed to suit U.S. culture. Are the key elements of this approach (assuming they are the reasons for success in Italy) preserved? Can we really expect parents in the U.S. to be as deeply and directly involved in their child’s education as seems to be a requirement in Reggio Emilia?
    I’m not in favor of pilot projects. We should not be implementing any pedagogy unless there is proof that the approach works for the students who will be enrolling.
    The US has been implementing different approaches over many decades, based on philosophy and nothing more in some cases, and the barest of research on the other, with the result that there is little agreement on what works or doesn’t.
    So, perhaps, we are relegated to making a decision on the Studio School based on logistics and money, because we have nothing else objective to go on.

  23. I would like to respond to the comments David Cohen made above regarding Studio School planners secretly “scoping out” Emerson on Family Fun night. I was sort of shocked to read it because I think it might be referring to my family and neighbors who attended the event.
    I am a supporter of the Studio School proposal and have been involved in some organizing and planning. I am one of the people Nancy Donahue mentioned above that contacted her several months ago to give a presentation to 8 or so neighborhood families in my home. I live a block away from Emerson and have a son who will be entering kindergarten in fall. We were invited to family fun night by a neighbor and were accompanied by two other neighborhood families who are not involved with the Studio School planning group.
    I had been in the school only once before and thought it would be a good experience for my son and our family to participate in a school event before he begins school in the fall. I did not recognize any other Studio School group people there. I did not talk to anyone about the issue. I attended as a member of my community. I have no idea how the rumor started that there were spies.
    As someone who hopes to get to know and work with the dedicated parents of Emerson I am very sorry they have had to learn about the Studio School indirectly through the media. I was at the State Journal interview Scott Milfred had with the group and at no time did anyone mention Emerson needed to be “saved from closing.” Much of that column was his own embellished take on the situation.
    The intention of publicly considering Emerson as a match for the Studio School has always been to create a partnership all parties could embrace. No one has ever wanted to take power away from the local school community. It has been very confusing in this process to know who is allowed to talk to who. The district has not made it easy for the necessary people to communicate with each other.
    I am not unhappy the State Journal editorial came out, though. It has given some fuel to the fire and people are starting to speak up. Hopefully, since the School Board has ordered the District to cooperate with The Studio School group, we can all move forward in this process and let the information flow freely.
    We are in the process of setting up community meetings with parents wanting to know more. We encourage your input. Anyone interested should contact the Studio School planning group on the website: http://www.madisonstudioschool.org

  24. Well it looks like the district isn’t waiting on a building placement decision regarding the Studio School. Long Range Planning has released two more options to deal with Lakeview overcrowding and school closings. One closes Lindbergh Elementary, divides it’s students between Gompers and Mendota, and shifts Brentwood Village AND Maple Bluff over to Emerson. See for yourself at: http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/boe/longrange/

  25. Here’s what I wrote to the MMSD School Board members about the proposed Studio School:
    I am a parent of two students at Emerson Elementary who has several concerns about the proposed charter school, The Studio School. Most significantly, I am opposed to the current proposal to embed the school within Emerson. Our super principal (Karen Kepler), who already works six days a week for Emerson, would be asked to administer a program which would be housed in our building but would not be part of our school community. Further, my speculation is that The Studio School would increase Emerson’s poverty rate by attracting mostly wealthier students from our attendance area.
    Even if a different model was chosen, in which The Studio School became THE curriculum at a school, and attracted students from various income and ethnic groups, The Studio School would require an unfair distribution of resources. These few students (eventually up to 142) would receive enhanced arts programming while the other 24,000 Madison students face a likely annual decrease in fine arts opportunities due to the yearly budget gap.
    I have other concerns regarding The Studio School (unsecure long-term funding, an unproven curricula, a lack of outreach by The Studio School sponsors to east Madison–notably Emerson–parents) which could possibly be alleviated by Studio School supporters. However, I oppose the core purpose of the Studio School initiative: to establish essentially a private school within the public school system. I would encourage the Studio School proponents to appreciate, and become involved in, Madison’s fine public schools.
    Thank you for your consideration, and for the hard work you do for our kids and schools.
    Mark Geistlinger

  26. Mark,
    I would like to respond to your assertion that the Studio School would “create a private school within a public school system.” I have heard this argument used not only in opposition to the Studio School but also against other charter schools employing different educational methods. Are you contending that because the educational approach that the Studio School would employ is often found in private school settings that it can’t be the basis for a true “public” school? Or is the core of your argument the belief that the Studio School wouldn’t draw a diverse student population?
    Since I’m unclear how exactly to interpret your comment, I’ll respond to both issues. I truly believe that innovative educational approaches can be successful in public school settings. In fact, I think bringing such methods into the public education system promotes equity because it enables students whose families cannot afford to pay tuition to benefit from learning environments that may be a better fit for them.
    To address the second issue, I believe that the Studio School’s student population can be a diverse one. Enrollment policies for such a charter school can be designed to help accomplish this. Concerted recruitment efforts that reach out to families who might be less likely to hear about the school in other ways can help us achieve this goal. Site selection is also a key factor, since where the school is located will greatly impact the student population.
    In response to your objection about locating the school at Emerson, I want to clarify that the proposal put forth by Studio School organizers did not include a specific location. We have always understood that the location remains undetermined. The location decision is slated for after the board vote and must take into account any school boundary changes, enrollment projections, etc. In fact, one of our challenges in reaching out to parents to give them more information is the reality that we can’t narrow our focus; since we don’t know where the school will be located, we must reach out to the wider community.
    I understand your concern about distribution of resources given the financial challenges that the district faces. Our Studio School planning group is working diligently on a revised proposal that minimizes operating costs . We realize that the charter school’s operating expenses must be in line with all of the other elementary schools throughout the district. We believe this can be done. If educating students at the Studio School costs the same as it would if these students attended other MMSD schools, would you still consider it unfair to offer a charter school with an arts and technology emphasis?
    K. Navarro-Haffner

    The school board is scheduled to vote on whether or not to move forward with the Studio School at a 6 p.m. meeting tonight, Feb. 26, at the Doyle Administration Building, 545 W. Dayton.
    So, if you want to see the Studio School become a reality in the fall, come to the meeting to show your support. It’s the last chance to make your voice heard on this proposed charter school.

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