Lawrence Furthers Public-Charter School Cooperation with District-Charter

Collaboration Compact

Mayor Rivera, local legislators voice congratulations, support
Lawrence, Mass. (Jan. 29, 2014) – A diverse team of Lawrence school leaders proudly announced today the signing of a District-Charter Collaboration Compact, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Creating a formal agreement to work together to raise student achievement across the city, the Compact represents another step forward in the historic collaboration between traditional public schools and charter operators to turn around the Lawrence Public Schools.
The newly formed Lawrence Compact Partnership not only deepens the commitment between LPS and the three proven operators it teamed with after entering Receivership in 2011 – the Community Group, Unlocking Potential, and Phoenix Academy -- but expands it to formally include Lawrence Family Development Charter School .
“We said from day one of Receivership that Lawrence kids can’t afford for the adults to continue fighting about whether the solutions are in traditional public schools or public charter schools -- they just need great schools,” said Receiver Jeffrey C. Riley.
Riley has introduced an “open architecture” model for district transformation. The district establishes baseline policies and flexible supports for schools, enabling educators to run a variety of school types within the system. This “level playing field” allows charter operators to run schools alongside the Lawrence Teachers Union, which Riley teamed with to open the union-operated Oliver Partnership School this year. Combined with successful traditional schools, like the South Lawrence East Elementary School, this model is creating great schools in every Lawrence neighborhood.
“Putting results ahead of ideology makes it possible to build those great schools, and open architecture gives them the power to succeed,” added Riley. “We are thrilled to partner with the
Gates Foundation as we continue to develop this new model for running a district.”
Today’s announcement was greeted with immediate community and political support, led by Mayor Daniel Rivera and local lawmakers. “Lawrence is on the path to becoming a national model for education reform through the efforts of Receiver Jeff Riley and his team,” said Rivera. “We are gratified that the Lawrence schools are receiving national recognition and support from the Gates Foundation for our open architecture model. This support for collaboration across sectors will only strengthen our work to improve education for all our city's students.”
The Gates Foundation will provide a $100,000 grant to support the work of the Lawrence Compact Partnership, whose members have met for months to identify key needs and opportunities for collaboration. Priorities will include developing and recruiting great teachers and school leaders; engaging the community in continued system-wide improvement; and expanding and creating new high-performing school programs.
The Gates Foundation ‘s District-Charter Collaboration Compacts are signed by district and charter school leaders from communities around the country who pledge to share best practices,
innovations and resources. School systems in Texas, California, Washington and Oklahoma were also announced as new Compact communities today, bringing the total to 20 since the Compacts were launched in 2010.
Comments from Lawrence Compact Partnership members:
Ralph Carerro, Director/Superintendent, Lawrence Family Development Charter School
“This planning grant award both validates and provides a strong indication that the educational reform initiatives that have been put in place and are under development for future expansion are
worth the investment. The grant will allow us to continue to plan for much deeper reform that will have a lasting positive effect for children's education in Lawrence.”
Scott R. Given, Chief Executive Officer, Unlocking Potential
“Unlocking Potential is honored to be part of the dynamic work of the Lawrence Compact Partnership. Together, we are building system-level change as we work toward our collective goal
to rapidly change life trajectories and prove the possible for all students in Lawrence.”
Sheila Balboni, Executive Director, The Community Group
“All of us at The Community Group are delighted that the Gates Foundation has singled out the collaboration of charter schools and district schools in Lawrence. There is a new spirit of hope in our City that comes from people setting aside their differences and working together to make better lives for our children and families. We are grateful for the support of the Gates Foundation.”
Kennedy Hilario, Director of Charter Schools and COO, The Community Group
“The work being done by the compact is extremely important. By combining forces and working together we are able to share best practices and come up with solutions that benefit the entire student population of Lawrence. I feel that the compact work allows District and charter schools to show the way to other cities on how much we can accomplish when we work together for a common goal.”
Support from local legislators:
Mass. State Rep. Marcos A. Devers, 16th Essex District
“I am immensely pleased with this great news, and welcome the Lawrence Partnership Compact and the support of the Gates Foundation. This grant means more than funds; it is an acknowledgement of — and incentive to boost — the greatest education initiative ever implemented in Lawrence to close the Achievement Gap. I congratulate receiver Jeffrey C. Riley for his leadership, and all the Compact partners on their commitment to working together for the children of Lawrence.”
Mass. State Sen. Barry R. Finegold, 2nd Essex and Middlesex District
“What’s happening in the public schools in Lawrence is not just a model for the rest of the Commonwealth, it’s a model for the nation as well. This compact will ensure our schools continue to provide students with an excellent education and opportunity for the future.”
Mass. State Rep. Frank A. Moran, 17th Essex District
“This collaboration of traditional public and public charter schools in Lawrence will benefit the community as a whole. The work of the Lawrence Compact Partnership is an innovative investment and an exciting opportunity for students in Lawrence.”