Representatives of seven groups vying to operate all or part of the York City School District next year delivered public presentations Wednesday that clarified differences among the proposals.
Members of the district's Community Education Council now have about a week to rank the proposals.
David Meckley, the district's chief recovery officer, said he will present a summary of those rankings to the school board next week at its Wednesday meeting.
The district — which is one year into its state-mandated financial recovery process — has positioned itself to make a final decision within the next few months about whether to turn operations over to an external charter provider or continue on a path of internal transformation.
Seven groups, which include both nonprofits and for-profit companies, responded to the district's request for proposals, collectively submitting more than 2,300 pages of information.
Wednesday was a chance for district officials and members of the community to hear from the groups directly.
The proposals: First up was Executive Education Schools, founded just a year ago by CEO Bob Lysek.
Executive Education Schools will open its first school in Allentown this fall, said Jennifer Mann, a former state lawmaker working with the group as a consultant.
Mann said the group is proposing to operate two York schools next year, then stagger its takeover of operations at the other schools over several years.
"We believe getting it done correctly is worth taking the right amount of time," Mann said.
Mentoring and internship opportunities are a key component of the Executive Education Schools model, she said. Extra-curricular activities are also emphasized.
"Students need to know what the expectations and rules are in a working environment," Mann said.
Education Revolution: The founder of New Hope Academy Charter School — which failed to have its charter renewed in York City after five years — is proposing to operate McKinley K-8 in the 2015-16 school year and Goode K-8 in 2016-17 through a company called Education Revolution.
Isiah Anderson said he's taken time to look "at what we've done well and what we haven't done well."
"We know this community," Anderson said, adding the company needs the help of proven experts and an emphasis on financial transparency to be successful.
Anderson has partnered with the Success For All Foundation, an affiliate of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Research and Reform in Education, with programs in 44 states.
Unique to the proposal is an employee stock ownership plan. If the charter is renewed, Anderson would transfer ownership of Education Revolution to employees — which another representative called "a powerful recruiting tool."
TenSquare: Founded five years ago, the TenSquare Group specializes in turning around schools "in crisis," said co-founder Josh Kern.
Kern said TenSquare believes "in the vision" the district has for its schools. But, he said, charter schools aren't necessarily the answer.
"We also recognize there's a lot of risk in what you're doing," Kern said. "And we know that we can help."
The "consulting firm" is proposing to operate the high school, Goode K-8, Ferguson K-8 and McKinley K-8 next year and add Davis K-8, Devers K-8 and Jackson K-8 to its operations for the 2016-17 year.
TenSquare does not have "a boilerplate approach to schools," said Ethan Mitnick, another representative.
Each plan is based on an audit of what works and what doesn't work in a particular school, he said.
TenSquare does not "have a vision for running your school system long-term" but would aim to turn the district back to local control, Mitnick said.
Charter Schools USA: Transforming schools is about addressing "the essential question," said Richard Page, a representative of Charter Schools USA.
"It's not just about academic results," he said. "It's about building students who become lifelong learners."
The company has partnered with National Network of Digital Schools, a nonprofit, on its proposal to operate all district schools starting next year.
With a 17-year history, Charter Schools USA is a "battle-tested" organization with a proven track record of transforming failing schools in urban settings, Page said.
Charter Schools USA is unique in its deep bench of resources but is selective in choosing the schools it proposes to operate, he said.
"We will not grow faster than we can support," Page said. "We turn down more opportunities than we take on."
Page said Charter Schools USA would aim to create a reverse "spiral effect" of growing enrollment, leading to improved district finances. He said the school would propose to set some of that money aside to offer college scholarships, economic development opportunities and teacher bonuses.
Mosaica: Another company claiming a proven history with "turnaround" schools is Mosaica Education Inc., a for-profit company with an international footprint.
Michael Connelly, Mosaica's CEO, said the company bases "everything we do on a very rigorous curriculum."
He said Mosaica rejects the "teach-to-the-test" approach, instead working to trigger students' excitement for learning.
The company's unique curriculum "makes kids want to come to school," Connelly said.
Mosaica is proposing to operate all York City schools starting next year.
Edison Learning: Another company with a history in York is Edison Learning, a for-profit company that runs Lincoln and Helen Thackston charter schools in the city. Edison is proposing to manage each of the district's schools starting next year.
Thom Jackson, the company's CEO, said it's time "to change the conversation" about education.
"It's time to talk more about the focus being on the kids," he said.
Edison focuses on students regardless of that student's socioeconomic status, Jackson said. Recently, the company has had success turning around a failing school in Gary, Ind., he said.
There, Edison focused first on creating a safe learning environment.
"Where students have safe environments, we found, that's where they will come to learn," Jackson said.
ASPIRA Inc. of PA: The nonprofit known as ASPIRA is proposing to eventually take over operations of all York City schools — but on a staggered schedule starting in 2015-16.
Next fall, ASPIRA wants to manage McKinley K-8 and Jackson K-8 — followed by the high school, Ferguson K-8 and Goode K-8 in 2016-17; and Hannah Penn K-8, Devers K-8 and Davis K-8 in 2017-18.
The company has partnered with Camelot Education, which would implement a disciplinary program, accelerated graduation program and therapeutic day school for special-needs students.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.