Here is a recap, for those not necessarily following along closely over the past few years .....
Though both the current superintendent of Corbett School District (CSD), Randy Trani, and
past superintendent, Bob Dunton, have said they were discussing the idea for a Charter
School for over five years, the way in which the Corbett Charter Association (CCA) came to
be was a surprise to many in Corbett. CSD’s school board approved the CCA agreement in
2009 and as Mr. Dunton has written, it was “done in record time.”
The CCA board that negotiated the original agreement with CSD in 2009 included: Randy
Trani (current CSD Superintendent), Charlie O’Neil (current CSD school board member),
Bob Dunton (then superintendent of CSD) and the balance of the CCA Board were also
employees of CSD. Bob Dunton served as both Director of the CCA and Superintendent of
CSD last year, leading into this year’s budget crisis. Bob Dunton is currently the Director of
CCA while Randy Trani was appointed by the CSD’s board to the position of Superintendent.
Bob Dunton explained the Charter School in part as: “… not your neighborhood school. In a
traditional public school, the board is directly responsible to the voters. Charter Schools are
different. It’s important to note the the Corbett Charter Association is a corporation. It
conducts business. It is not a democracy. It’s not even a representative democracy. It does
its business in whatever way seems best according to its own lights.”
Due in large part to an accounting error, CSD went from showing a budget surplus at the
end of last school year, to having to hold an emergency quorum of the school board to place
a three million dollar levy on the 2010 fall ballot. Without a clear understanding of what had
happened, even by CSD board members, the levy failed.
While the size of the budget shortfall indicated a problem larger than a decrease in state
funding, CSD continues to explain the shortage this way to the community. The CSD school
board should have been more concerned that annual audits of the CSD listed a lack of
internal controls and oversight in regards to how CSD’s budget has been handled over the
years. At the least, more conversation was needed to explain how a surplus became a 1.5
million dollar deficit, in less than six months.“Sometimes a crisis lets you do everything you have always wanted to do.”
-Bob Dunton, 2009.
CSD’s school board met in executive session in March 2011 and without public review voted
5 to 2 to approve an expansion of the CCA for up to 510 out of district students next year.
This number will account for over 50% of CSD’s total student body. Non-sustainable
decisions and spending practices have ultimately contributed to our inability to survive on
our own as a school district and if it were not for the CCA today, CSD would be financially
The possibility of losing our public school and going to a Charter school model seems more
likely than rumor today. Randy Trani admits there would be benefits to such a move. The
description of CCA above mirrors very closely the attitudes of most of our current CSD
school board members already.
Please visit http://corbettoregon.com/csd-school-board-candidates
to find out more about your candidates for CSD’s school board and become a more informed voter.
The Corbett School District has an amazing and dedicated staff, some outstanding teachers, involved parents and community members doing extraordinary things every day for our kids. We all want what is best for them and for Corbett. I for one do not want to lose our public school for a CCA way of doing things.