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Superintendent Recommending Charter School's 2-Year Extension

Superintendent S. Dallas Dance said his recommendation does not mean he's satisfied with Imagine Discovery Public Charter School's performance.

Superintendent S. Dallas Dance said he is looking to provide a two-year extension to Imagine Discovery Public Charter School's contract, which recently expired.

The school system had previously offered a one-year extension to the struggling charter school, according to The Baltimore Sun. The newspaper reported in May that parents of students at Imagine Discovery, which opened in 2008 near Woodlawn, had criticized the system for not having a process in place to renew its contract. A parent told the paper that the school offered an alternative to nearby schools that weren't receiving test scores as high as those in the central portion of the county.

Dance plans to make the recommendation to the Board of Education at Tuesday night's meeting. He said he wants to carefully evaluate Imagine Discovery's academic performance and professional development since opening. This will involve working with Imagine Schools, the charter school's management association, before determining if the school needs to be shut down, he said. 

The charter school, which is the only one in Baltimore County, educates students in grades kindergarten through seventh. Similar to other charter schools, Imagine Discovery is funded by the state but managed by an outside group.

"We do want to make sure we're being fair," Dance said. "We want to make sure that if we revoke the charter, we've done everything."

The superintendent stressed that his recommendation does not mean he's satisfied with the school's progress.

"I'm not pleased with the results for the school," he said. "There's a lot of work to be done."

The extension, if approved by the Board, will carry the school through the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years. Dance said there would be a "soft" internal evaluation in January 2013, and a full evaluation in fall 2013 to determine if Imagine Discovery would receive a two- or four-year extension starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

Pat Crain, the director of Imagine Schools Maryland regional office, could not be reached for comment.

In the May article, The Sun reported that Imagine Discovery fell below county averages on standardized state tests but the performance was on par with neighboring schools. Results for the show that the school has continued to fall behind the county average.

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