The Charter Authorizers Regional Support Network (CARSNet) is a project of the Alameda County Office of Education. CARSNet is funded by a U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program National Leadership Activities Grant, which was awarded in March 2015.
CARSNet has a three-year grant and their mission is to train and support charter authorizers in California that have six or fewer schools.
CARSNet is one and a half years into their grant, and one of the resources they provide their authorizers is Epicenter. An authorizer must complete a three-day “boot camp” or a “master” class, and once they complete either, they are provided free access to Epicenter until 2019. The boot camp is intense, and it takes participants through the life cycle and legal aspects of a charter school, and demonstrates the skills necessary to be a strong authorizer, including interviewing charter applicants and presenting in front of a board.
“We are excited to give folks who go to our boot camp or master class free access to Epicenter,” said Gail Greely, Director of CARSNet. “If your job is to monitor two active charter schools, you do not want to be wasting your time sending emails, tracking down a financial report, or working with an Excel spreadsheet to try to understand how a school’s enrollment demographic changed from year to year. That’s why we included Epicenter. We want people spending time on what matters—analyzing results, not inputting data.”
By gathering authorizers together and working with them, CARSNet’s long-term goal is to help authorizers make better decisions and promote better schools. But the immediate challenge is to reach out to authorizers that charter six or fewer schools. In California, two-thirds of authorizers charter only one or two schools. The CARSNet grant focuses on reaching out to these small authorizers.
“We are excited to offer Epicenter to our colleagues because we know it will make them more efficient,” Greely said. “It will be great to see how our authorizers are using Epicenter.”
Gail Greely is the Director of CARSNet. Previously, she was the Director of the Charter Schools Office within the Alameda County Office of Education, which is a moderate-size authorizer in California. Before that she was Director of the Charter Schools Office of the Oakland Unified School District for two years. She was also an elected school board member for eight years in the City of Alameda. Greely is also an attorney with a background in energy and education.