Updated 12/20/2011 11:06 AM
Much-debated IDEA program heads to AISD
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The controversial IDEA charter program is coming to Austin.
After hours of discussion Monday evening, board members with the Austin Independent School District voted six-to-three in favor of converting several grades at Allan Elementary into an in-district charter school.
"I think it was a good discussion, it was healthy, it was long and at the end of the day, I think we have a better product than we did had we not had tonight's discussion," AISD Board President Mark Williams said.
"It was kind of anticlimactic wasn't it? People looking around. Was that the vote? Was that the vote?" Education Austin Co-President Ken Varifus said.
Board member Annette LoVoi made the first motion to decline to approve the IDEA contract, which has been revised seven times.
The board failed to pass that motion, and board member Tamala Barksdale insisted on making changes to the contract before the final vote.
Areas of concern included health and safety, special education and dual-language programs, the separation of siblings and enrollment.
The board summoned the district's legal counsel to the podium many times to answer questions. Almost a half-hour past midnight, the trustees voted 6-3 in favor of the the in-district charter school.
Even though Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said the board will collaborate with the community going forward, protesters still aren’t buying it.
"I know that people are angry and their frustrated and they feel let down," Varifus said.
IDEA will manage Allan Elementary School for the 2012-2013 school year.
The charter program will add an additional grade every year, until it covers kindergarten through 12th grade.