York City school board punts Lincoln Charter deal
The York City School District board did not take up a highly anticipated vote Wednesday night because negotiations were still ongoing between the public district and Lincoln Charter School, an official with the city's district said.
The city's school board had been scheduled to vote on Lincoln's proposed five-year renewal, which has caused controversy because it includes the charter's plan to expand its offerings into middle school grade levels.
"At this time, there is no final agreement regarding Lincoln Charter Schools renewal to vote on," said district spokesperson ShaiQuana Mitchell in an email, when reached Thursday.
Mitchell said the district would continue to work with Lincoln toward an agreement and said a date for another vote has not been set at this time.
Lincoln's most recent charter expired June 30. The charter school is permitted to continue operations up until the district either approves or denies the renewal, officials have said.
When reached Thursday, Lincoln officials said they were hopeful a deal would be reached.
Negotiations would likely focus on the expansion, along with use of 459 West King St., a building Lincoln purchased to use for the expanded grades.
Lincoln Principal and CEO Leonard Hart said the space is needed to spread out for social distancing, and would also be used to offer services open to the whole community — not just Lincoln — including a trauma center.
"We were very appreciative that we had time to speak," said Anne Clark, Lincoln's director of outreach.
Both she and Hart were able to clear up some board misconceptions at the meeting Wednesday, Clark said.
The debate surrounding the expansion has centered on inconsistent academic performance from Lincoln, incomplete curriculum for the middle school and confusion over the school's proposed enrollment cap.
Some board members assumed Lincoln was seeking to increase its enrollment cap to 875, but Hart noted that the caps noted in the original charter will remain unchanged. That agreement calls for a limit of 785 students from the city school district. Lincoln included the 875 total enrollment figure only to inform the school's budget projections for the following years, and Hart said that figure would not be part of the renewal agreement.
Lincoln would accept students on a first-come, first-served basis, whether from York City or outside districts.
During the meeting, Hart also referenced misleading academic information that did not take into account a statewide dip in Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores and noted that issues on curriculum stemmed from district policy that "was neither robust nor transparent" in what was required.
Clark said Lincoln officials are also open to updating the school's lease, which several board members had recommended.
In regard to the renewal, Clark said, "We’re hopeful that it will include the expansion the way that we wrote it."
Supporters sent 77 letters sent to the public school district — including one from former York City Mayor Kim Bracey — and 739 have signed a petition in favor of the expansion.
Hart added that it would be important to at least get the go-ahead for sixth grade next year.
York City's next school board committee meeting is Aug. 10.