Outstanding Charter School? - Put on Notice

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Geo

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Apr 25, 2006, 9:29:20 PM4/25/06
to gg
I attended a special meeting of the AJGNS Charter School Board that was held
last week (April 18, 2006).

Bob Evans, Starwood's on-site consultant in Harmony, informed all of those
in attendance that the charter school has 3 months to prepare for the
dissolution of the AJGNS Charter School Board. Mr. Evans stated that in
August 2006 the Osceola County School Board will take over the school.

Bear in mind, Mr. Evans presented the information as a directive, not as an
option over which the AJGNS Charter School Board would have any sway. In
fact, since negotiations with Osceola County apparently began more than 6
months ago, only once and for the first time a week or so ago did Bob Evans,
Bob Geimer or Jim Lentz bother to include Dr. Victor (or any charter school
member) in the last of the secret (ie. closed door) meetings held with
Osceola County on this matter.

In other words, the AJGNS Charter School Board was shutout of the decision
making process on the fate of its own school exactly like is was shutout of
the decision making process regarding the new permanent school slated to
open in August 2008.

Of course, the school board could choose to continue AJGNS as a charter
school, but Mr. Evans made it clear that the developer would then cut off
its funding to the school to the tune of $360,000 per year. Mind you, this
is financial support that we all heard Mr. Evans himself verbally commit to
on behalf of the charter school in the recent past (ie. Dec 7, 2005). The
loss of these funds simply means that the AJGNS school would cease to exist
altogether, thereby scattering all of its students and teachers to other
schools next year.

When asked what assurances the current employees of the charter school (ie.
teachers and staff) have that they will still have jobs in August, Bob Evans
would offer none. The most he would say is that there is a shortage of
qualified teachers in Osceola county. If the AJGNS teachers are "highly
qualified" they should have no problem being rehired.

Mr. Evans then went on to say that "As the bread winner, the prospect of
changing jobs is traumatic.", thereby acknowledging the emotional and
psychological impact of his bombshell announcement on the teachers and staff
of the current AJGNS school.

He was then asked "If the county is unable to take charge of the school by
August 2006, for whatever reason, will the developer continue to fund the
charter school?" Bob Evans responded "We only thought about positive
outcomes. But no, we will not continue to fund the school after August 2006,
even if the county is unable to step in."

When asked what level of financial support Harmony Development would
continue to offer to the AJGNS school after Osceola County takes over, Mr.
Evans would make no concrete commitments to any further financial support of
the school by the developer.

Bob Evans concluded his announcement with the ominous remark "If somebody
tries to stir the pot, you may lose the new permanent school as well, not
just the charter school." Mr. Evans did not elaborate on what "sir the pot"
means.

'Geo


Note1: Sadly, due to some recent policy change by the AJGNS Charter School
Board, this meeting was not recorded with a tape recorder as many such
meetings had been recorded for years in the past. I was told that AJGNS
Charter School Board meetings haven't been tape recorded for the past 6
months. This must be somewhat off since I know that a tape recorder was used
to record the very first meeting of the AJGNS Charter School Board during
which Bob Evans also spoke (December 2005). During that meeting Bob Evans
insisted that the tape recorder be shut off before he proceeded to say
something to the effect "there are other ways of obtaining financial support
for the school" and "the charter school board should ask Arthur J. Gallagher
for money". (Note: these statements are not verbatim since the school board
acceded to Mr. Evans' wishes by turning off the tape recorder.) Apparently
the tape recorder has not been used since Bob Evans first visited the
school.


Note2: On April 18th the AJGNS Charter School Board was told that the
transition would occur in August 2006. Two days later (August 20th) the
AJGNS Charter School Board learned that they will actually have only until
July 1, 2006 to dissolve the charter and make way for the Osceola County
School Board to take over the school.

Message has been deleted

Geo

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May 18, 2006, 11:33:38 PM5/18/06
to HarmonyFL
What follows are emails between Mr. Blaine Muse, Osceola County School
District Superintendent, and myself clarifying what transpired between
Harmony Development Company (ie. Starwood's Bob Geimer, Bob Evans and
Jim Lentz a.k.a. Birchwood Acres) and the Osceola County School
District regarding the "fast track" transition of the Harmony charter
school to a public school in months rather than years.

Note: My interpretation, as written below, was never corrected or
refuted in any way by Mr. Muse.

-----Original Message-----
From: George Schiro
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 12:23 PM
To: Blaine Muse
Subject: RE: FW: Fast Track Transition of AJGNS School


Mr. Muse,

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think the reasonable
interpretation of what you have written is as follows:

"The developer asked the Osceola County School District to take over
the AJGNS school in 2006 and run the school in portables until the new
school is built in 2008. The Osceola County School District did not
originate this plan to take over the AJGNS school in July or August of
2006, the developer originated this plan."

Thank you very much for your clarification of this matter.

Sincerely,
George Schiro

-----Original Message-----
From: Blaine Muse [mailto:mu...@osceola.k12.fl.us]
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:18 AM
To: George Schiro
Subject: Re: FW: Fast Track Transition of AJGNS School


During the discussions with the developer regarding the construction of
an elementary school it was clarified that as a School District we
would not be willing to commit tax dollars toward the construction of
anything but a public school. We already had within our five-year
capital plan the funding for an elementary school on the east end of
the county. When discussions centered around the donation of the
property and the infrastructure in place with roads, water, etc. the
decisions on funding the construction of a permanent site for an
elementary school were finalized. At one of those final meetings to
discuss the details of the permanent construction, the School District
was questioned by the developer as to whether it could run the existing
campus as a public school and what was required as far as the existing
staff was concerned. At that point, the School District explained to
the developer that any decision as to the School District's involvement
in the operation of the school would first have to be decided by the
Charter Board.

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