Editor's Note: The following was submitted by former member of the Neshaminy School Board William O'Connor. He wrote down his personal views to be read into the record at Monday night's MaST Charter School hearing. O'Connor let us publish his remarks.
A charter school is a lot like the back-up quarterback on a football team. Nobody knows they’re even around if the team is winning, but once fans see their team faltering, then everyone wants to give the #2 guy a chance to see what they can do.
Such is the case with Neshaminy, where many parents are losing faith in our public education because of years of contract strife and power struggles with our teachers’ union. They see this as an opportunity to try something different, in hopes the charter school can accomplish what our public schools seemingly have not.
But in Neshaminy, we have an unusual situation where we have gone from zero charter schools, to now possibly approving a second charter school before our first one has even opened its doors. We do not yet understand the impact of one charter school, but here we are discussing the application for a second one.
What will the impact of one charter school be on our student population? Will it significantly reduce our enrollment?
Will we be able to break even or possibly save costs on educating our students, or will the charter school syphon money away from our district, thus hurting the students in our public schools?
If our students attend charter school in the elementary or middle grades, what will they experience educationally when they rejoin the public school students at the high school?
So many questions and so much that we do not yet know.
I ask that our School Board reject the MaST application until we have learned the impact of opening our first approved charter school. Not only will this give us a chance to assess the impact of a charter school in Neshaminy, it will also provide our Superintendent, Mr. Copeland, with an opportunity to restore our district, and set it back on a course for educational superiority.
As a Neshaminy activist and former school board member, I have spent years fighting alongside others to restore fiscal sense and academic excellence in our district. I did this in hopes that our community could rebuild Neshaminy, not outsource it to someone else.
I still believe in public education. I still believe in Neshaminy.
William D. O’Connor
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