After a bitter battle to convert a Los Angeles high school to a charter, Birmingham Community Charter High has graduated its first class, reports the LA Times. The consensus: It was worth it.
“It was challenging,” history teacher Maria Agazaryan admitted, “but I’ll take it over LAUSD any day of the week.”
While district-run schools reduced the number of school days and hiked class sizes, Birmingham was able to cut spending by using outside contractors to provide food service, buses for special education students, and gardeners and janitors. The school also saved money on supplies.
Faculty said that the new way of doing things has been more efficient and that the contract employees often do better work.
“Things are cleaner, things get fixed faster,” said Robin Share, one of the school’s three instructional coordinators. “If we have a need for an extra set of books, all that happens much faster.”
Teachers who hated the charter idea left for other schools and were replaced by new teachers who wanted to be at Birmingham.
Teacher Ed Jacobson said things are looking up — which is a good thing, because Birmingham’s staff now has no one else to blame if the school doesn’t succeed.
“Something about having the whole thing in your hands is cool,” he said. “It takes a while for it to dawn on people — it had better be good.”
Test scores for the first year aren’t in yet, but more students earned a diploma this year.