While the School Reform Commission's focus over the next few months will be trying to pull the District back from the brink of financial catastrophe, there will also be plenty of other important - and controversial - work to be tackled.
Thursday evening, Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky, chair of a new committee focused on charters, turnaround schools, and rightsizing, laid out a cramped timeline of key decisions the SRC will have to make this winter and spring:
A total of 25 charter schools are up for renewal this year. The District is anticipating a March 29 vote on these renewal applications.
An additional 13 charters are seeking to expand by an estimated 6,000 additional combined seats over the next five years. Dworetzky said these expansion requests would have "significant budget implications" and that the March 29 target for an SRC decision could be delayed if the District's financial picture is not yet clear.
A key factor in those charter decisions will be schools' scores on the District's School Performance Index. Ratings will be publicly released on February 21.
The District is gearing up for another cohort of Renaissance charters. A vendor conference has been held, and selection of provider finalists is expected by February 20, said Dworetzky. District officials have previously said that targeted schools will also be announced that day. The SRC is currently planning to vote on March 29 on recommendations to match schools with charter operators.
Dworetzky's committee is also overseeing the District's school closing process. In addition to taking part in community meetings, the SRC is also required by state law to hold a formal public hearing on any school closing. Dworetzky said he anticipated that hearing would take place during a single, long Saturday session to be held either February 25 or March 3.
Dworetzky said he hoped the SRC could decide on the exact date and determine whether it will vote on the nine closing recommendations individually or as a package by the end of this month.
In addition, the Charters, Turnaround, and Rightsizing committee will continue to oversee the adaptive reuse process for the District's 12 surplus buildings. A process for evaluating options for disposing of those properties - including the creation of RFP evaluation teams consisting of District leaders, elected officials, and community representatives - will run through the spring, leading to an SRC discussion in June.
"We're going to have a busy spring," concluded Dworetzky.