Red Lion Area Senior High School teacher Cari Ayala is convinced her daughter is getting a quality education in the York City School District.
"(She) is well-rounded," said Ayala of York City. "She feels safe. She gets a solid education. She will walk out of school with a scholarship."
Ayala, whose daughter is a William Penn Senior High School freshman, was among a dozen attendees who gave comments during the York City schools advisory committee's nearly three-hour meeting Wednesday at Davis K-8 School.
The 20-person committee, led by the district's chief recovery officer, David Meckley, is considering two options to improve the district's academics, safety and fiscal well-being.
The options are converting the district to all charter schools or selecting an internal transformation method proposed by a team of teachers and administrators.
The transformation method would include creating magnet schools that would have focus subjects for each building and would allow students to attend schools around the district, not just in their neighborhoods.
Public comments: Like Ayala, most of those who gave comments supported improving the district without the 100 percent charter option, including Janet O'Rourke, a teacher at Davis. She questioned how district students would benefit from such an option.
"Would indoor pools return?" O'Rourke asked. "Will it bring back sports programs, music and art, social studies? Would it improve technology, get us laptops that work? Is there enough financial backing?"
At the end of the day, people want quality education like students are getting in other districts around York County, she said.
Before hearing public comments, committee members heard results of a survey of 254 district parents who enrolled their children in local charter schools. The survey was done by David Polk, president of Polk-Lepson Research Group in York.
Polk said that in terms of attitudes and behaviors, 72.5 percent of the parents said they've seen positive changes in their children. When asked about academic performance, 81 percent of the parents said their children made improvements while attending charter schools.
Sixty-five percent of the parents said they were not likely to send their children back to city schools.
However, several committee members noted the district did better than several of the charters on standardized tests.
Perception: Polk said the survey measures charter school decisions parents are making based on how they perceive the city district.
Committee members also heard from Gordon Mann, senior managing consultant of
Public Financial Management Inc., based in Philadelphia.
Mann presented academic information about academies and charter schools in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Florida. He also discussed the Renaissance Model of charter schools, which takes poor performing schools and gets a committee to choose a charter company to overhaul it.
PFM will present a financial report for the two options at the next advisory committee meeting, Meckley said.
After the presentations, the advisory committee agreed to request a four-week extension from the state Department of Education to get extra time for gathering information and preparing a recommendation that the district school board would vote on.
The goal is to have the recommendation ready for the city school board's May 15 meeting, Meckley said.
-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.