A message from our Board Chair
John Rex Charter School | October 8, 2019
An important message from Nathaniel Harding
John Rex Community,
On Monday evening, the John Rex board and OKCPS district administration presented our amended charter application to the Oklahoma City Public School board. I’m pleased to report it went very well and we are on track to complete the process of becoming an OKCPS-authorized charter to guarantee long-term success for John Rex Charter School.
The amended application grandfathers in all current students and their pre-K siblings, and will allow for a fully independent JRCS board, guarantee 8th grade next year, and create long-term alignment with OKCPS, all while enabling us to retain our autonomy over teacher pay, curriculum, resources, fundraising, class sizes, school calendar, governance, board policies, and other key elements of our mission.
As planned earlier this summer, we’re working with the district on an expedited process to have the application approved at their next regular business meeting, November 4th. The last step will be to negotiate and secure a contract and lease agreement. This is in keeping with our joint goal of finalizing the new structure before the end of the calendar year to give parents and families time to plan.
The charter application outlines the plan to grandfather in current students and their siblings entering pre-K. In our new structure, we will have just two enrollment tiers: students who live within our boundary (the Academic Enterprise Zone, AEZ) are Tier 1; other students within OKCPS are Tier 2, with priority given to returning students and their pre-K siblings, and faculty children. Lastly, we are modestly expanding our AEZ to continue to fulfill our mission of serving the downtown community, adding about 65 JRCS-aged students. You can find the new map below.
These are essential changes John Rex needs to make to create long-term success and growth for our school.
You may want more information or have questions. A good summary of our presentation to the OKCPS board Monday can be found here. You can also find my previously published FAQ here. Lastly, I’m including below some follow-up FAQ that I have received over the last month.
Thank you to our John Rex families and parents, teachers, administrators, and the staff and board of OKCPS for our progress and patience as we make these necessary changes. Our John Rex community is strong and our students shine with tremendous educational experiences. We have truly built something special and look forward to continuing to lead our school the John Rex way!
Chairman, John Rex Board of Directors
Updated Additional Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is the plan for grandfathering current students?
The amended application grandfathers in all current students and their siblings entering pre-K.
2. Can my child and future children be guaranteed a spot forever through grandfathering?
No. Since we opened our doors in 2014, grandfathering in students has been contingent on space availability and is still subject to space limitations. Class sizes are, and will continue to be, important to us. The new structure with OKCPS isn’t affecting this viewpoint. Tier 1 students are guaranteed a seat, with grandfathered students and pre-K siblings taking next priority before Tier 2. Currently 30% of the student population is from Tier 1. We anticipate continued growth from Tier 1 in future years. Since OKC and downtown are growing—and since keeping class sizes smaller is a priority—we will always need to find solutions for capacity, which we have been able to do so far and anticipate being able to do in the future.
3. Will John Rex honor the OKCPS transfer policy?
As a public charter school, we define our own policies on issues like transfers. The application outlines the plan to grandfather in current students and their siblings entering pre-K.
4. Can you explain more about grandfathering policies?
The amended application grandfathers in all current students and their siblings entering only at the pre-K grade level. This functionally supersedes any previous grandfathering policies, since all would be grandfathered in. We will carry over our policies adopted in January 2019 regarding twice-annual residency verification, and the requirement that siblings must enter starting only at pre-K. We will also carry over the policy that families who move to a less advantageous tier must re-apply (e.g., if you get in with Tier 1 but then move to Tier 2, you would re-apply the next year as a new Tier 2 student). This policy regarding moving has been in effect since January 2019 and is a policy that we will carry over into our new structure.
5. Will class sizes increase?
If we can secure more space, which our board has been actively pursuing, overall class sizes should remain within our preferred levels. We are encouraged by our progress and should soon have more details. In a previous board meeting, we signed a temporary agreement to investigate using the McAlpine Center across the street, just east of the elementary building. Having enough space is something for which we must always solve, regardless of structural changes with OKCPS.
6. Can we work with the Police Athletic League (PAL) to have athletics?
Yes, it is an option. We intend to include language in our contract so we designate John Rex as part of OKCPS athletics, enabling us to work with PAL.
7. Why are we changing our boundary, or Academic Enterprise Zone (AEZ)?
We are slightly expanding our AEZ to include roughly 65 more students in the downtown area. State law requires that our AEZ include 60+% students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. As this is technically a new application (being treated like an amended application), the 60+% requirement applies. More importantly, it’s our mission to provide quality education opportunities to an otherwise underserved and diverse downtown community.