Charter Renewal or Not, Chairman Says Silver Hill Best as ‘Innovation School’

silverhilllogoThe fate of Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School won’t be known for weeks or months, but it continues to have a number of bright options.

If teachers, the superintendent or mayor and School Committee ultimately reject its second renewal as a city-owned charter school, the kindergarten through fifth grade school could convert to, what the state calls, an “innovation school or simply return to the ranks among other city schools—much improved from its low rankings of a decade ago.” Silver Hill Chairman Euthemia Gilman, who founded the Silver Hill charter school in 2008, made a pitch for the latter Tuesday night.

“Of the three options—the three doors, door one, door two or door three—I would take door two. I would take innovative academy.”

Innovation Schools are a bit of a hybrid between district-owned charter schools and standard public schools. The union loses some of its power, but such schools retain the right to supplement finances with grants and its own nonprofit foundation money. Gilman sees many advantages. “You become a flagship elementary school. I would say that does more good, especially for the quadrant and for the district, as opposed to stirring up and getting people upset.”

If left up to teachers at the school, Silver Hill’s charter would easily win renewal. But, a decision by Haverhill Education Association President Lisa R. Begley to have all members of the union take part in vote leaves that outcome less certain. Gilman offered some speculation as to why that is.

“We were always seen as running an elitist school, which is not the case. Close to 80 percent of our students are from the Mount Washington area and go on to Consentino School,” she said.

Add to that, some officials doubt there is enough support among School Committee members. On that political side of the equation, there is pressure to find solutions to problems at Tilton elementary school—possibly eased by ending the district-wide lottery and redistributing students from other parts of the city back to schools in their own neighborhoods.

Click for larger image.

Click for larger image.

Meanwhile, Consentino school teachers appear to be urging a “no” vote on charter renewal. They issued their own flyer last night.

No matter how teachers vote next Thursday, the future of Horace Mann charter schools across the Commonwealth remain in doubt. Gilman noted, “There were 17 of these Horace Mann charters in 08. It dwindled to 14 and now we’re down to four.”

She attributed to the dwindling of Horace Mann charter schools to confusion between them and privately operated charter schools, as well as “cumbersome” bookkeeping. In Haverhill, she said, Silver Hill accomplished its goal as a charter school, attaining level one status for five years.

7 thoughts on “Charter Renewal or Not, Chairman Says Silver Hill Best as ‘Innovation School’

  1. The educational system has some serious issues. Everyone agrees on that. What we have here is an idea that has worked and provided some insight on what can be done to change the system for the better. So, why change it and go backwards ? Self interests maybe ? Old thinking ? Protectionism among the union members ? Yes, all of the above maybe. Why ? Party politics over results. Sadly, some people have their priorities wrong. It’s about the kids and not your self interests. Grow up folks ! Look around and see what is happening to our city and cities and towns around the country.

  2. Dannyboy and SlipperCity, you should really get your facts straight. Ms. Gilman is not a teacher. She is the former principal of the school, chairperson of the board of trustees and now retired. She is just looking out for what is best for the students. The fact that the school has been a Level 1 school for the last 5 years is a testament to the great job the teachers and administrators do at the school. Why would anyone want to make a change for pure political reasons? Isn’t the goal to get the students the best education? Don’t mess with this school. Put your efforts into improving our other schools in Haverhill!

  3. The positivity of Haverhill families was evident last week at the Hunking School and last night at our SHHMCS Board meeting. We hope for charter renewal and look to our future.As the Founding Director of SHHMCS, we are moving forward on seeking charter renewal.

  4. If your teaching today I would hope you weren’t commenting and reading this article while you were supposedly teaching the children.

    • Good one, Dannyboy! I, too, hope this self proclaimed teacher is not taking time out of her teaching day to respond to this column. Too much time on her hands if that is the case.

  5. Silver Hill is special. Not because they are an “elitist” school but because of the culture that the staff, administration and parents create there. What the school offers, managed class sizes and full day kindergarten, should be what the city is striving for all around. By eliminating that opportunity for students in the school system we will be taking a step backwards. Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face.

    And to be clear. I LOVE public schools. I believe in public schools. I teach in a public school. Silver Hill is a public school. We need to support and expand what is going well in our public school system and fix what is going wrong without “punishing” a school that is going right.

    • Teacher unions breed mediocrity and this is the most blatant proof of that I’ve ever seen!

      If it wasn’t for the fact that the teachers at the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School remain in the Haverhill Education Association union there is absolutely no way it would have ever become a charter school in the first place. This isn’t about the quality of the educational services provided to students…it’s about teachers protecting their own self interest. The very last thing teachers in a union want is competition, which is a significant threat to their very existence. That’s why teachers all across the state voted against charter school expansion last fall.