Charter school gets a late slip

It wasn't quite a victory. Nor was it a defeat.

The proposed Parramore charter school was left in limbo as of May 15, after the Orange County School Board effectively postponed final approval of the school until November with the understanding that discrepancies in the charter application must be resolved.

"Like I said all along, we are going to have a school," said Gerald Bell, the vice president of the Parramore Heritage Renovation Foundation, an organization that helped write the application.

But he won't have a school this fall, which is what proponents wanted. And there's no guarantee they'll have one next year unless key concerns are addressed.

For example, several school-board members were concerned that city Commissioner Daisy Lynum and the Foundation's executive director, Pat Evans, had claimed at public meetings that more than 85 percent of the students attending the school would come from Parramore. Board members were worried that those comments -- which, if carried out, would violate the spirit of a desegregation order the school district is under -- reflected the school board's intentions.

Furthermore, board member Barbara Trovillion Rushing outlined a number of discrepancies between the funds the charter school claimed to have secured and what it presented in its application. The school's budget listed such sponsors as Florida Hospital and CIBC Bank as pledging $525,000 for the school. Yet letters from the organizations showed they had authorized only a fraction of the money.

Additionally, Trovillion Rushing was worried the school would be financially unsound because it appeared to have too many overhead expenses. "If they do not get money from outside sources," she said, "they will be in deep, deep trouble very quickly."

Other discrepancies were noted. Board member Linda Sutherland pointed out that the charter school board had even applied for the school under two different names.

After the meeting, Trovillion Rushing was asked by a reporter if she considered the application to be sloppy. "That's your word," she demurred, "not mine."

Opponents felt they had scored a minor victory by thwarting a school they said was being driven less by Parramore residents than Mayor Glenda Hood.

The opponents noted that many people who spoke in favor of the school were city employees or church ministers with ties to the mayor. "How many were on the city payroll?" Sylvia Young wondered. "The rest were ass-kissers."

Supporters relied heavily on emotional appeals. They arrived at the meeting in green T-shirts that read, "I support the Nap Ford Community School," the unofficial name of the charter school, in honor of the late city commissioner.

"I will send my children to this school," said Lisa Childs, the only Parramore parent among 27 speakers at the meeting. "It's not where you live but how you live."

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