Madison County Schools received an application for a public charter school in Madison County. LaFontaine Charter Schools' application is accessible below for review.
Madison County Schools
LaFontaine Charter School Application
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023
Madison County Schools Board of Education Meeting Room
Moderator: Colleen Spencer, President and CEO of Richmond Chamber of Commerce
2. Review Structure of Public Forum
3. Open the Floor for Public Comment
4. Close the Forum
● Gus LaFontaine – Not a critic of traditional public schools; experience in Madison County Schools has been good; would like to add to the wonderful opportunities for students in Madison County; returned to Madison County and began LaFontaine Preparatory Academy; One thing he would want to fix about the current LPS model would be to remove the barrier of tuition; current school is a non-profit and would continue to be a non-profit as a charter school and would continue to serve many students with special needs as well as a general population of students.
● Susan Cintra – President of MCEA – Funding lost would be an impact to schools; resources given to school; impact on at-risk students would be significant; many instructional practices mentioned in the application are already in place in our current public schools; she does not see what needs would be met that are not already being met, but she does see what needs would not be met with the loss of funding to the district. There are NO failing schools in Madison County.
● Stephanie Winkler – Teacher in MCS, taxpayer for more than 30 years, previous KEA President – Experience at KEA gave her opportunity to see charter schools in other areas of our country and the fact that they are not showing any better gains than traditional public school counterparts; Focus on the funding being invested in our local public schools in order to provide opportunities for ALL
● JT Elliott – teaches at Waco Elementary and at EKU – He is pro-education and that is why he supports the LaFontaine charter application. He began his career in education in Florida where families have a true choice to send their children to schools that will meet their individual needs. He appreciates the Pro-Education choices this Board of Education has made in recent years and hopes the Board will continue making Pro-Education decisions regarding school choice. Focus on students and what is best for them.
● Kevin Todd – LPS parent – His family’s experience at LPS gives him reason to support the LaFontaine charter application.
● Ken Hensley – LPS parent – His family’s experience at LPS gives him reason to support the LaFontaine charter application. His son’s special needs have been addressed and he has been very successful. Why wouldn't Madison County want to be part of this movement?
● Colleen Canterbury – works at LaFontaine – supports the application of LaFontaine because of the success she sees in students at the school every day and because of the success her own children had at charter schools in another state.
● Amanda Hager – parent at LPS – first experience with LPS was during the COVID time of shut down. Her daughter thrived during that difficult time.
● Haley Saylor – Director of The Lexington Nature School – giving choice to parents is vital and parents should have the choice
● Sarah Clements – parents at LPS – experience with education started in public school during COVID; daughter was adopted from another country and would need to learn a new language and culture; she struggled in the traditional public school setting; enrolled children at LPS which has been a blessing to her family
● Martina Jackson – parent at White Hall Elementary and also serves on the SBDM at WHE – public choice and where the dollars go means a lot to people. The existing structures in public education should be supported so they can benefit the students they are meant to benefit. Opportunities that are offered at public schools should be maintained financially so as many students as possible have access to those opportunities. She does not see the need for an additional elementary school in Madison County.
● Madison McDaniel – parent at LPS – people who have raised concerns about a charter school being able to handle the needs of medically complex students should know that smaller class sizes along with additional recess time and focus on social-emotional development are very important for these students and schools like LaFontaine are a big benefit.
● Charlie Bufalino – works with National Alliance for Charter Schools – here tonight to explain what charter schools are and how they are beneficial to communities. Charter schools are new to Kentucky, but are not new to the nation.
● Eric Arthur – teacher at LPS, but here tonight as a parent – LPS was a life-changing experience for his children.
● Jennifer Aiden – parent of children at LPS and a student in public middle school – the decision to approve the application must not be about the money, but must be about what is best for children. One size does not fit all when it comes to education for our children.
● Kevin Petry – parent of a student at LPS – experience at LPS has been life-changing; asking the Board to review the application with what each student needs in order to be successful at the forefront of their minds
● Lilly – student at LPS – LPS goes above and beyond when it comes to learning
● Brooke Johnson – Kingston parent – Kingston has made every effort to meet every need of her gifted and talented child with special needss. Understands parents would like choice, but believes that public funding should remain in public schools.
● Chad Stewart – parent at White Hall and MKA – thinks LPS is wonderful and loves all the beautiful experiences that have been shared by LPS parents and staff members; commends parents for advocating for their students, he is doing the same; Funding has to come from somewhere. Money going to a charter school has to come from somewhere. He is here advocating for his children as well and for the process of education at public schools. He can’t get behind taking money out of his kids’ public school classrooms in support of LaFontaine classrooms.
● Todd Blevins – Richmond resident also an LPS parent – Asking the Board to deny the application. This has nothing to do with LaFontaine itself. The line has to stop when this would negatively impact the district and students in those schools. There will be a funding shortfall somewhere and it will be felt in the public schools.
Concerned about the distinct possibility that Madison County taxpayer dollars could go to support a non-Madison County resident who can be admitted to a charter school. And what about the kids that don’t get into LaFontaine? He can’t stand by and watch his daughter thrive when other students suffer because of it.
● Jonathan Berry – LPS parent – LPS is meeting a need and that’s great. Feels there is a fear that if LPS becomes a charter school there will be something taken away from someone else. He would love for other kids to be able to experience what LPS students are experiencing.
● Mary Atherton – retired educator – She is an advocate for public education. What makes the difference in a child’s life is not where they are, but the teacher. She says she is definitely opposed to “robbing Peter to pay Paul. I don’t think this is the answer. The proof in the pudding is who we put in the classroom and in administration. If you want better, pay for it yourself.”
● Cathleen Foley – MCS teacher and parent – When her family were moved here, they were “academic snobs.” They enrolled their kids at St. Mark. When they moved to Kit Carson, she says it was phenomenal. Madison Middle was more of the same. Madison Central was even more of the same. She says they are so grateful for every opportunity their children have had in Madison County Schools. If they wanted to try something, it was available to them. We have great schools, but if the belt gets tightened and funding is taken away, our current students won’t have those same opportunities.
● Ryan Clemments – LPS parent – He is hearing a lot about the impact of taking funding away from public schools to develop charter schools, but would argue charter schools offer an opportunity for students whose needs are not being met by traditional public schools.
● Alexis Wood – parent of a pre-K student who does not qualify for public school preschool program – wants the opportunity for children to have access to pre-K programs; there just will not be enough space in charter schools for everyone; we need to think about the needs of the many and not the needs of the few.
● Heather Lovelace – teacher at LPS – Read a statement on behalf of a 5th grade student, the student said her experience in traditional public school was not great for her; her experience at LPS has been great.
● Jackie Petry – LPS parent – was against sending her child to a private school, but her experience has been great
● Ted Simmons – Madison County resident and was a public educator in another state previously. He saw the cooperation between public schools and charter schools and how it really worked well and he believes that could be the case here as well.
● Mary Jean Diderick – resident of Madison County – Simply speaking as a taxpayer and is opposed to this application.
● Mrs. Ritchey – LPS parent – her family’s experience has been great at LPS and she wants other children to benefit from the LPS experience.
● Rebecca Brown – Supporting the charter application because she believes parents should have a choice for where their children go to school. Questioned how money is spent in the public school system.
● Abby McIntier– LPS parent and co-founder – believes in what LPS does and believes that it is a great option for Madison County
● Jeff McIntier – co-founder of the school – Says the application was never meant as a competition; LPS has always worked with public schools; “We want to work with the school board to increase the opportunities for children.”
- Section I Table of Contents, Cover Sheet, and Enrollment Projections
- Section II School Overview
- Section III Educational Program Design and Capacity
- Section IV Operations Plan and Capacity Governance
- Section V Financial Plan and Capacity
- Section VI Closure and Dissolution
- Section VII Optional Information
- Section VIII Application Addendum
- Section IX Attachments
- Section X Attachments
- Section XI Appendices
Attachment 27: Pre-Existing Nonprofit Organization Financial Documents
Appendix 2: Research for Curriculum Choices