The most popular charter school — and arguably the most successful school in Anchorage — will lose its independence and be swept under the authority of the Anchorage School District, after a 6-1 vote on Monday that dissolved Family Partnership Charter School.
The decision followed months of internal dispute within the Academic Policy Committee, the charter school’s governing board. Two groups of parents disagreed on the direction of the school in an argument that went on for months, until the superintendent intervened.
Anchorage School Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt recommended the district take over the school because of the dysfunctional nature of the governing board. He said there were instances where the board had broken the law.
The public has lined up on both sides of the issue for the school that provides educational options for about 1,700 students, and which has the best educational outcomes of any school in the district. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade have been able to use FPCS to do homeschooling and homeschooling hybrids, and the format allows parents to control more of their children’s curriculum. In this era of curriculum controversy, that is no small matter. Some who testified on Monday said they would withdraw their children from the district if the school board proceeded with the takeover.
Josiah Tshibaka, the student council president of FPCS, said taking over the school was equivalent to blowing up a mountain to address a molehill.
“It will harm students more than it will help them and it’s not in the best interest of our school,” he said.
The school board also made promises to the people attending the meeting that the funds dedicated for FPCS would stay with the school, and not be swept into the district’s other fund pools, even as it comes under the district’s supervision and morphs to the district’s command structure.
“It is time to pivot our focus to supporting the Family Partnership communities, and earn the trust of all families to choose the wonderful opportunities that Family Partnership offers. It’s time for us to begin the healing process, and that won’t happen overnight,” Bryantt said, as families filed out of the meeting.
Voting against the takeover of the school was member Dave Donley. The others on the board, including Andy Holleman, voted to take the school over. Donley and Holleman are on the ballot on Tuesday for reelection and often vote opposite each other on important issues.