Dear City on a Hill Families:
After our MCAS scores were released in September 2018, I wrote to you outlining the steps we were taking to turnaround our academic program and improve our results. One of the key steps was setting the bar of academic excellence higher so that we could: (1) keep pace with our highest performing charter peers and the highest performing districts in the state; and (2) most importantly, deliver on the promises we made to you when you enrolled your children at City on a Hill.
In the family meetings I hosted in the fall and spring, and in subsequent letters to you, I have consistently reiterated that this is an uphill struggle and that there will be challenges along the way. One of the challenges in the 2018-19 school year has been declining enrollment, which is due, in part, to the fact that our academic bar was set too low for too long. That dip in enrollment – coupled with greater competition from our charter peers translated into fewer students in our 2019-20 lottery – forces us to face the reality that we will serve far fewer students next school year than the current one.
As you may know, the primary source of revenue for all charter public schools is per pupil tuition; this is unlike a traditional public school where the district is funded by the state and local governments. Thus, as student enrollment declines at a charter public school, so too does the amount of money available to operate at current levels.
To that end, we have made the responsible decision to “right-size” the organization – at each school and the Network Office alike – by looking for ways to be more efficient, achieving greater economies of scale and, in some cases, eliminating positions where the number of students did not warrant continuation of the status quo. The decisions on which individual school-based staff members were offered positions next school year, and which were not were difficult to make, were grounded in our mission and made by your student’s school leader.
Please note: these choices were made with an eye toward improving academic outcomes and are in the best interest of the collective needs of the students of your respective school. Of course, as enrollment grows in the coming years, we will be adding new staff positions and greater variety of course offerings, too. In the interim, though, we firmly believe that these difficult choices will ultimately make our organization stronger and enable us to better partner with students, families and our communities going forward.
Finally, the changes outlined herein are happening even as we continue to work with our teachers’ union to finalize our first contract with our school-based staff. The negotiating process began in earnest in July 2018 when I joined as CEO and has continued at regular intervals since. We believe that continued effort over time will lead us to an agreement that will meet the needs of both sides. And as I have repeatedly said, we are moving as quickly as we can and as slowly as we must.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to touch base with your student’s school leader or reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support as we work diligently to transform City on a Hill from good to great.
Kevin T. Taylor
Chief Executive Officer