Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Road, is poised to give up its status as a charter school after 22 years.
Kaleem Caire, a community member who has been heavily involved in helping the school discern its future, said the decision came about in part due to changes by the state Legislature.
In July, the state began requiring school districts to be much more deliberate and rigorous in authorizing and renewing charter schools. The new rules give charter schools greater autonomy but also impose new requirements and responsibilities.
Charter schools must, for instance, have a governing board. That’s something Wright did not have for many years, said Caire, a national expert on charter schools and a strong proponent of them.
He supports the Legislature’s moves but said the charter school model is no longer a good fit for Wright, which has been operating as a charter school “in name only” for many years, he said.
“(Wright) relies completely on the district for its resources, and the district has operated it as if it’s their school, with very little influence from the community,” he said. “It is effective as a traditional public school. To now impose a charter school structure on those folks would, I think, be a disaster.”
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Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham was the first to question whether Wright still needs a charter, Caire said.
The school’s leaders, including Principal Angie Crawford, agree that a charter no longer makes sense, he said. The School Board is expected to take up the issue Monday.
If Wright’s charter is not renewed, it would still remain a school that students would need to apply to, and it would retain its same focus and its broader attendance area, Cheatham said. Those are all attributes of what is typically called a magnet school, the new status under which Wright likely would operate, she said.
“We think there are good things happening at Wright, but we think they can continue under magnet status,” she said.
The school lists its focus as promoting self-efficacy, resilience, social action and “college, career and community readiness.”
Wright opened as an experimental magnet school in 1993, originally called Madison Middle School 2000. It transitioned to a charter school during the 1994-95 school year.