Dubuque school board votes against renewing elementary school charter status

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Monday night Dubuque Board of Education members voted against renewing the charter status of Prescott Elementary School.

Prescott parents and faculty attended the school board meeting on Monday, January 8, 2018.

That status allowed the school more freedom with curriculum and enrollment.

Board members said a lot of research, time and outside input was put into this decision.

Superintendent Stan Rheingans recommended the board approve the charter renewal, and Prescott Principal Vicki Sullivan was also in favor, but ultimately the board went a different direction.

Three board members voted in favor: Anderson Sainci, Nancy Bradley and Tom Barton.

Bradley said she values Prescott's innovation, and Barton noted the support the renewal had from Prescott parents, students and staff.

Barton also said the charter status didn't cost the district anymore than a public elementary school.

The four council members who voted against renewal are Tami Ryan, Mike Donohue, Lisa Wittman and Jim Prochaska.

Donohue said the only things they'll take away from Prescott students are the things that aren't working.

Ryan said she doesn't see the need of calling Prescott a charter school and revoking the status wouldn't slow the school's current momentum.

Parent Amanda Bickal says she's disappointed and will miss the community her son gets to be part of.

Bickal said, "I really love the community there. I love the diversity. I love that you know he doesn't question color or ethnicity or even diverse names. None of that is even a big deal to him because this is life."

Rheingans says they'll work to keep students at the school.

"Relationships are important in education with the students, the principal, the secretaries, the paras. So we'll work hard to make sure those kids have that opportunity to stay through their fifth grade experience," Rheingans said.

In an email, Sullivan said, "I was disappointed in the board's decision, and I'm excited to keep working with Prescott's staff to meet the needs of all students. We can continue to use Expeditionary Learning as our instructional design along with other structures including looping."

Sullivan also informed Prescott families of the decision through email Monday evening.

Sullivan says families living two or more miles away from the school received free busing and reimbursement for providing their own transportation. That will no longer be the case once the charter ends.

The charter will be in effect through the remainder of the school year.