Charter school seeks new sponsor after DPS votes to end contract

Dayton Business Technology High School will try to find a new sponsor and remain open next school year, after Dayton’s school board voted Tuesday night to terminate their existing sponsorship this summer.

DBTHS is a dropout recovery charter school, often referred to as Dayton Tech, that serves about 150 students at 348 W. First St. and has been in operation for 12 years. Dayton Public Schools is Dayton Tech’s sponsor, handling big-picture oversight. But like other charters, the school has its own school board.

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Members of that Dayton Tech board pleaded with DPS board members Tuesday night to give them one more year to improve their deficiencies, but the DPS board voted 5-1 not to renew the contract.

“Obviously we had hoped to get a few more (votes),” said Bryan Ashenbaum, president of Dayton Tech’s school board, after speaking at the DPS meeting. “But they don’t seem inclined, so … the die is cast. This is it. We have to forge our own destiny and find another sponsor.”

According to Dayton Tech’s contract, if the DPS board terminates the school’s contract, the school cannot sign with another sponsor without DPS’ approval. So Ashenbaum said the charter school struck pre-emptively earlier this week, filing its own notice to terminate DPS’ sponsorship first.

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“We sent the notice of termination under advice of our counsel, who said, this keeps our options open in case they do what they did tonight,” Ashenbaum said.

Ashenbaum said Dayton Tech students on average are slightly older than traditional high school students, as many have had a dropout or other interruption in their school careers.

On the 2016-17 state report card, Dayton Tech’s overall graduation rate was 50.2 percent, which exceeds the state standard for dropout recovery schools. The school met the state standard for high school test passage rates, but did not meet the standard for student growth.

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Acting DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said Tuesday that DPS has had problems making sure Dayton Tech is consistently following requirements, referring to an evaluation done by DPS administrator LaShawn Graham.

Graham and a committee of DPS administrators scored Dayton Tech on areas including academic success, organizational performance and fiscal soundness. She said Dayton Tech scored 58.3 percent, compared with a 75 percent target set by the Ohio Department of Education.

Ashenbaum said after a period of disorganization, the school has a largely new school board and a talented new principal. Dayton Tech board member Dan Bitler said neither his school nor DPS is perfect but both are trying to move in the right direction. He said many Dayton Tech students found a fit at the school that they didn’t find elsewhere in DPS.

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Outgoing DPS school board member Ron Lee was the only vote against terminating the school’s contract, saying he thought the school should be “given another shot at rising to occasion.”

Dayton Tech currently owns the school building at 348 W. First St., but its sponsorship contract with DPS says if the school closes, all of its assets revert to DPS. Graham said if the school closes, the process for helping students transition back into the main Dayton school district is clearly spelled out.

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