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Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2002

Wichita parents like private company’s school curriculum

November 24, 2002

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— School officials want to cancel a private company's contract to run two schools, but parents are hoping to keep its curriculum in place.

Parents at Dodge Elementary and Jardine Middle schools say they want the school district to keep Edison Schools Inc.'s curriculum when it takes over the schools next year.

"I would really like to see the district match the quality of education that Edison provided," said Richard Sapp, whose son is in second grade at Dodge.

Edison, based in New York, has run Dodge since 1995 and Jardine since 1996. The company runs more than 100 schools nationwide.

The Edison program includes an extended school day and school year, free home computers for every student in third grade and above, a challenging curriculum and intense teacher training.

"Since this is kind of an accelerated program, I'm worried they could be bored" in a district-run school, said Tammy Avis, who has a first-grader and a fifth-grader at Dodge.

The school board will vote Monday on superintendent Winston Brooks' recommendation to cancel Edison's contract for money reasons.

Edison spokesman Adam Tucker said Thursday that the company was losing money on the schools and had agreed to return them at the end of the school year.

Crystal Winters, whose son is a first-grader at Dodge, said she wants the district to keep the school's teachers, Edison's curriculum and the extended-day, extended-year format.

"I really don't care who's managing the school as long as those components stay," Winters said.

In January, the school board voted to take over Ingalls and Isely schools after five years of Edison management because of high teacher turnover, declining enrollment and disappointing test scores. Both are now magnet schools run by the district.

Isely, renamed Spaght Accelerated Magnet Academy, still uses the Success For All reading curriculum that Edison uses. Several Dodge parents said they wanted to keep that.

But the district did not keep Edison's math curriculum, Chicago math, at either school.

Some parents, like Sapp, say they are disappointed with the apparent decision to expel Edison but know there is little they can do now.

Brooks and board members said that Dodge and Jardine have good programs and are well run but that the cost is too high.

Brooks said that he thinks Edison is in serious financial trouble and that taking over the schools is the best way to protect district assets.

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