Richmond Outsources Alternative School to Private Firm

Richmond Alternative School

Richmond Alternative School

by James A. Bacon

Maybe there’s hope for the Richmond city school system after all. The School Board has approved a contract to outsource the education of students with disciplinary issues to a private company, Camelot Education.

Under the contract, Camelot will take over operation of the Richmond Alternative school, which serves students who have been pulled out of their home school because they are too disruptive, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The contract should be a good deal for taxpayers. The city will pay Camelot $1.8 million for the upcoming school year, supplemented by $800,000 for city support staff. That’s less than the $2.9 million the city had budgeted to operate Richmond Alternative.

More importantly, school officials hope that Camelot will do a better job of educating the problem students. Test scores at the school have been stagnant or dropped in the past three years, and the number of dropouts showed a “significant uptick.”

Explained Michelle Boyd, assistant superintendent of exceptional education and student services:

Camelot will staff the school with people licensed in specific content areas, who are trained in behavior modification and de-escalation techniques and who are experienced at working in nontraditional environments.

Key to Camelot’s success, most notably in the Philadelphia school system, is the emphasis on creating a of norms geared to students with disciplinary issues. These behavioral expectations, sustained by peer pressure among staff and students, include:

  • No one has the right to hurt another person.
  • Education and the classroom are sacred.
  • Never behave in any way that will discredit yourselves, your family, your peers, or your school.
  • Take pride in your school.
  • A Camelot student is always a lady or gentleman.

What worked in Philadelphia may or may not work in Richmond. But surely that is a risk worth taking. The existing system was not working. If the Camelot contract was structured properly, it will set clear performance metrics — reduced absenteeism, higher graduation rates, etc. — for the organization to achieve. If Camelot succeeds, then everybody wins. If it falls short, then Richmond can always find another vendor or put its own team back in place.

There are currently no comments highlighted.

4 responses to “Richmond Outsources Alternative School to Private Firm

  1. pretty interesting .. trying to find out more about Richmond’s Alternative School program – like how many students are in it and what their achievement levels are.

    Ditto about Camelot and the schools it operates – their cost per student, their achievement levels, etc.

    talk about transparency…. NOT!!

    do we have a clue if this is really a good thing or just out of the frying pan and into the fire?

  2. by the way – we’re talking about 12K per student if my math is right – and current math proficiency is 16% and reading 27%… pretty awful.

    don’t know current graduation rate nor any stats for Camelots programs

    We have the same problem with Camelot that we have with Charter school advocacies in general – no apple to apples stats or transparency in general much less any performance specs Camelot promises to deliver.

    I’m ALL FOR 3rd party competitors to the public schools – as long as we actually have transparency and performance goals especially if we’re going to use tax dollars and pay the same per pupil costs or more.

  3. Larry:

    While Virginia laws regarding charters need improvement, charter schools have to file annual accountings and are more transparent than public schools. Hopefully Camelot will be required to account for its operations.

    If the school system has been failing (which is clear with this school), try something to give the students a chance at success. The students are what counts – not fights by adults over who controls the pie.

  4. @JOHN BR re: ” While Virginia laws regarding charters need improvement, charter schools have to file annual accountings and are more transparent than public schools. ”

    okay – show me where I can view the Charters data.

    If we really care about “the children” – we provide the same level of transparency to the public that we do for public schools.

    show point me to where that is.

    thanks.

    and ” If the school system has been failing (which is clear with this school), try something to give the students a chance at success.”

    again – we don’t just go from bad to worse with no idea of what we are going to… other than a name on a piece of paper.

    I’m agog that the same folks jumping up and down over the current results are apparently more than willing to just jump – without a clue as to what they are jumping to.

    where is the data that supports this move?

Leave a Reply