Incumbent school board member to vote for charter school initiative
Cody Holt, an incumbent Elgin District U-46 school board member who is seeking re-election in April, recently said he supports a proposed charter school to advance math and science education in Elgin that would open in the 2017-18 academic year if the school board approves it.
The proposed Elgin Math and Science Academy (EMSA) had been previously discussed by the school board in 2014 but was defeated because of flaws found in the "charter school's business and academic plans," according to a report by The Chicago Tribune.
“I am supportive of the proposal and will be voting yes to the charter application on April 10.” Holt told the DuPage Policy Journal.
Suzanne Johnson, the school board's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said she was concerned that the school would not have the necessary resources to be successful.
“The proposal calls for a focus on science, yet the facilities selected do not have science laboratories, and the design team does not intend to add a dedicated science laboratory until the third year of operations,” she said.
Holt said he supports the initiative because “a charter school would allow many of these students an opportunity to have a quality education that they would not get at their neighborhood school.”
The initiative's detractors have argued that it would not help students who are currently learning English as a foreign language. The initiative's supporters, however, have refuted the claim.
“When district officials said EMSA's expeditionary learning model, which promotes project-based learning, does not provide adequate development for bilingual students, one of the speakers in favor of the school pointed to a school in Kenosha with close to 20 percent English language learners that used it,” according to The Chicago Tribune.
Holt said he believes the initiative will pass, but it will be a “close vote.”
“I would support any means to give parents more control over their children's education," Holt told the Daily Herald. "I believe charter schools can lead to a healthy competition with traditional public schools.”
Holt said he will continue to push for education reform and charter schools with a focus on budget transparency, adding that students in the district are not meeting academic standards or parental expectations.
“Our current system, which is a top down approach has led to declining academic achievement and leaves students behind,” Holt said.