Two enterprise schools without contracts have agreed to pay Oklahoma City Public Schools more than $200,000 in previously waived administration fees to gain board approval on new deals before classes start Monday.
The Oklahoma City School Board is expected to consider new contracts for Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School and Jackson Enterprise Elementary School at a special meeting Tuesday. The meeting starts at 5 p.m. inside the district administration building, 900 N Klein.
Board members could not reach a consensus on the contracts at their July 21 meeting, leaving Belle Isle parents feeling uncertain and frustrated with the school year nearing its start.
The administration fees were reinstated into the latest contracts after three board members spoke out against the waivers, which had been recommended for approval by district administrators, documents show.
The contracts call for the schools to each receive $4,423.25 in per-pupil funding. At that rate, the 5 percent administration fee would amount to $99,523 for Belle Isle (450 students) and $120,091 for Jackson (543 students).
Enterprise schools sign annual contracts with the district because they operate differently than traditional public schools. Enterprise school status gives the school its own school board, more flexibility for spending and staffing, and other unique rights.
Board member Phil Horning said he voted against the contract because both schools already negotiate their own per-pupil funding and shouldn’t get their administration fees waived as well. Belle Isle, Horning added, has an unfair advantage because it gets to pick and choose students and should be treated the same as every other school in the district.
Board member Ron Millican said Monday he thinks every school in the district should be funded the same regardless of academic status. Belle Isle scored an A-plus on its latest report card; Jackson (formerly Columbus) received a B-minus.
“I have no desire to hang ’em up,” Millican said. “I just wanted to give the new superintendent and his staff an opportunity to revisit the contract since these two schools are different than the other two (enterprise schools).”
Belle Isle, 5904 N Villa, and Jackson, 2601 S Villa, have negotiated their own per-pupil funding since 1999. Two other enterprise schools — John Marshall Mid-High School and Northeast Academy — were established in 2011 and are funded the same as other district schools.
In 2012, Belle Isle received $4,449 per pupil — $335 more than the district average.
Belle Isle board President Stephen Zahn said he will meet Wednesday with Oklahoma City Superintendent Rob Neu to discuss future contract terms between Belle Isle and the district.
Zahn said Monday he is concerned the district will take away the school’s ability to decide how it spends the money it receives, regardless of the amount.
“We want to control how we spend our money, which is how it’s always been,” he said. “We still want control over our budget.”