Mayor Thomas M. Menino and school officials are on the verge of striking a historic truce with the city’s independently run charter schools, as they attempt to create a mutually beneficial relationship after more than a decade of acrimony.
The compact, which would be the first in Massachusetts and one of a handful nationally, is expected to be announced this afternoon following a meeting convened by Menino. The Globe obtained a copy yesterday.
The three-page document attempts to resolve some of the thorniest issues, from money to the kinds of students charter schools serve, issues that have long strained relations between City Hall and the 14 charter schools, publicly financed institutions overseen by the state.
Of particular significance, charter schools would agree to target student recruitment in nearby neighborhoods so fewer students require busing, a service that state law requires the city to cover, at a cost to Boston of about $3.5 million a year.
In return, Boston would consider leasing empty district school buildings to those charter schools that abide by the compact, a scenario that is likely to rile city parents, teachers, and students who once occupied those schools and never wanted them to close.
The accord also includes a pledge from charter schools to serve more special-education students and English-language learners, while the School Department will explore the possibility of allowing charter schools to join them in a cost-saving plan to purchase supplies or use services, such as breakfast and lunch programs, that the city school district operates.
Menino is expected to deliver a short speech at this afternoon’s meeting and will stress the importance of collaboration between the two sectors of public education, according to a copy of the mayor’s prepared remarks.
“As we pushed ed reform at the State House, as we’ve worked to turn around schools, and as we’ve labored to redesign the district, we’ve showed that what’s more important than anything — more than adult wishes, more than buildings, more than ego — is that the kids are going to learn,’’ the mayor was expected to say. “This compact shows the same thing.’’
The agreement will require approval of the School Committee, as well as boards of trustees for the 14 charter schools.
Nearly all charter schools are expected to support the agreement, said Kevin Andrews, chairman of the Boston Alliance of Charter Schools, based on a straw poll he took earlier this week.
“This is a historic agreement,’’ said Andrews, who also is headmaster of the Neighborhood House Charter Public School in Dorchester. “I believe it paves a new era of cooperation and collaboration between charter schools and district schools for the benefit of students.’’