Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Only the strong survive

Note: this is not an ABCTE charter school - I just joined the board of an independent DC charter school 18 months ago to try and help them survive and did all we could.

Last night I went before the Washington, DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) and relinquished the charter to our school. We will not be opening this year because we did not have enough students enroll to make it financially viable. But it goes deeper than that.

Charters schools operate on an incredibly lean budget, always less then district schools, and if there is not outside funding they cannot make it. In our case, we did not succeed in getting enough grants and donations and continued to fall further behind. This drove staffing cuts that then started to hurt the curriculum and student experience.

Even with those cuts we did dramatically improve on AYP this year and we had higher enrollment than we ever have had this summer. But without financial support, we could not make it unless we had another 20 students enroll. We worked hard with the PCSB to thoroughly analyze the school this summer so that we could make the right call. It has been an agonizing few weeks trying to figure out the best possible course of action.

In the end we did what is right for the students and closed the school.

This is the beauty of the charter school system without artificial caps – only the strong will survive giving students the best possible choice for their school.