Boston Globe’s James Vaznis wrote an interesting article, “In an unusual move, Conservatory Lab Charter School seeks to join Boston Public Schools.” My first reaction is “why would they want to do this considering they were just approved by the Board of Appeals for a new $25-million dollar building?” After reading the article, I realized it’s just another charter move to game the system. A backdoor way to charterize and privatize the Boston Public Schools! The article notes that if Conservatory Lab, a “Commonwealth Charter” school, were to onboard to Boston Public Schools as a “Horace Mann in-district charter”, their teacher’s salaries would increase as BTU members, but their governance and “financial autonomy“ remains with the Conservatory Lab Board of Trustees!
Conservatory Lab “Commonwealth” Charter School is right, it should “pursue other contingency plans” and not expect the Boston Public Schools (BPS) to subsidize its operation! BPS can’t afford it or afford to lose another 450 seats to other Boston charter schools jumping at the chance to expand. Any money we do have should be going to support closing the achievement gap for the students in BPS schools, and providing BPS certified music and arts teachers without a classroom, positions in our own 125 schools, not used to pay the salaries of a boutique charter school that is entertaining the idea, as a Horace Mann in-district charter, it is going to be the feeder school for the Boston Arts Academy!The Conservatory Lab’s Board of Trustees had a fiduciary responsibility and could have paid their teachers well, they chose not to and dropped the ball! For years, Conservatory Lab’s Director Diane Lam was paid $297,916.59 to oversee a school with 450 students, who knows what other benefits and annuities she may have received! BPS Superintendent Chang makes $267,383. and he oversees a school district with 56,000 students!
For years Conservatory Lab didn’t pay teachers a comparable wage and had high turnover so this is no surprise. When Conservatory Lab staff first unionized, everyone became aware of the working conditions at Conservatory Lab that contributed to that high turnover. If you bully and don’t treat your employees well, and with respect, they leave for greener pastures! That shouldn’t surprise anyone. That said, now is the time for Conservatory Lab Teachers to re-group and rejoin the union, so they can receive the salary and benefits they earned and deserve, without working at the will and whims of a Board of Trustees!
“Shout out” and “Thumbs-Up” to the BPS Meeting Jockey who stayed late on Friday, on a holiday weekend, and wrote the memo, Vaznis cited, telling Conservatory Lab “NO.” You were a little nicer then I would have been, but I was impressed, so thanks! Finally, someone at the Bolling Building who understands that BPS district resources are limited and should be used for our students and staff in our schools! They shouldn’t be used to bail-out an outside privately run, publicly funded, charter school that has obviously squandered their money and is now trying to game us. Conservatory Lab Charter School shouldn’t think of Boston Public Schools as their backup plan!