Great Oaks has already met a handful of the state conditions and is on track to meet the rest.

Great Oaks on track to meet all 16 conditions to stay open

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Great Oaks has already met a handful of the state conditions and is on track to meet the rest.

Great Oaks has already met a handful of the state conditions and is on track to meet the rest.

The State Board of Education Thursday night announced promising progress on conditions placed on a charter school that has been facing a potential closure for two years.

In November, Great Oaks Charter School was given one last chance by the state to meet the 16 conditions to keep its doors open.

RELATED: Great Oaks Charter likely to get one last chance

There’s quite a long history of Great Oaks, but just to kind of wrap it up in a nutshell, there’s been a long history of struggles with enrollment,” said Leroy Travers, director of the Charter School Office at the Department of Education.

Their enrollment has ticked up this year over last year and their number of applications for 24-254 has gone up this year, he told the state board.

“They’re doing a number of things for community outreach, but a part of it is just time between their former reputation and now,” he said, “but a lot of community outreach, trying to change the culture within the building, with of course support from the department.”

The charter has a student body with 36% of students receiving special education services, 15% of students have previously been incarcerated, 10% of students are current/expecting parents or have experienced late term pregnancy loss and 5% of students are in foster care and/or homeless.

School leadership has said it’s important to stay open for students who are underserved and underprivileged.

Charter school renewals

Charter schools are up for renewal, typically every five years, and during the renewal process for Great Oaks late last year, school leaders presented data on progress: 

  • Reduced the number of suspensions by 20%. 
  • Increased school testing participation rates increased by 21%. 
  • Increased Math Smarter Balanced Assessment scores by 6%.
  • Made sure 100% of administrators are certified and have prior leadership experience.
  • Reduced chronic absenteeism – defined as missing 10% or more of school days throughout the school year – by 31% (72% to 41%), the lowest it’s been in four years.
  • Increased new high school student applications by 100%.
  • Increased new applications overall by 52%.

RELATED: Great Oaks can cite notable progress as it faces review

Great Oaks requirements

To date, Great Oaks has met eight out of the 16 conditions placed by the state:

  1. By Feb. 1, 2024, Great Oaks will develop and implement a succession plan.  
  2. Great Oaks will submit detailed policies and procedures for multi-tiered systems of support no later than Feb. 1, 2024.  
  3. By Feb. 1, 2024, Great Oaks will submit a detailed plan for parent engagement and communication for children with disabilities. This will include a plan for parent councils and a plan for chronically absent students.  
  4. By Feb. 1, 2024, Great Oaks will submit a special education professional development plan that includes a scope and sequence.  
  5. By Feb. 1, 2024, Great Oaks will submit a detailed plan of the internal processes for monitoring compliance of special education timelines, individualized education plans (IEPs), and evaluation summary reports.  
  6. Great Oaks will schedule and attend monthly meetings with the Exceptional Children Resources liaison. These meetings will include the special education director and school psychologist. The compliance monitoring plan will be reviewed at these meetings. This condition will be considered met upon successful exit from the compliance monitoring as approved by the Exceptional Children’s workgroup.  
  7. By Dec. 15, 2023, the foster care liaison will review the online training module and submit confirmation. 
  8. By Feb. 1, 2024, Great Oaks will meet standards in all curricular areas as determined by the Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development workgroup.

Great Oaks’ current confirmed enrollment is 135, and there are 31 additional applications in their system. 

The school must remain with an enrollment of at least 119, per the conditions. 

The board was curious how the school was able to meet that metric so quickly, and Travers explained that community outreach made a big difference. 

There’s also five ongoing conditions that the charter has met thus far, but will need to continue to meet:

  1. For the remainder of fiscal year 2024, Great Oaks leadership (head of school, building principal, and a representative of the board) will engage in bi-weekly, on-site meetings with members of the Department of Education on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 1 p.m.  
  2. For the remainder of the fiscal year 2024, on or before the last Tuesday of each month, Great Oaks will submit a financial report to the Charter School Office. 
  3. For the remainder of fiscal year 2024, the school must maintain an available cash balance in First State Financials to cover summer salary obligations. 
  4. Great Oaks will meet all mandatory deadlines required/requested by the Department of Education. 
  5. Until December 2024, Great Oaks will report monthly to the Department of Education on the progress for each unlicensed and/or uncertified staff member to obtain certification and corresponding status update. 

The board of education said they were concerned about staff who are unlicensed or uncertified. 

“The school is working, continuing with some interventions to work to have them pass the Praxis,” Travers said. “There are two, just trying to be mindful of personnel issues, but one has taken the Praxis and is going to continue to take the Praxis until they pass, and the other to my knowledge has not yet taken it but is due to take it in the near future.”

Praxis is a certification test for educators.

Great Oaks has three that must be met soon:

  1. On the 2023-2024 Financial Performance Framework, improve to a rating of “approaching standard” on the Days Cash and Cash Flow measures.
  2. On April 1, 2024, Great Oaks will have an enrollment of 119 students (80% of authorized enrollment).  
  3. On Sept. 30, 2024, Great Oaks will have an enrollment of 148 students.

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