Six of the First State’s 23 charter schools are up for renewal this year and will have their futures decided at the State Board of Education’s December meeting.
First State Military Academy, Freire Charter School Wilmington, Great Oaks Charter School, Kuumba Academy Charter School, Positive Outcomes Charter School and Sussex Montessori School are the six that submitted their renewal application Monday.
Charters are required by state law to apply for renewal every five years.
Renewal applications contain basic information about the school like leadership personnel, contacts, enrollment, district of residence, mission statements and more.
They also include more complex details like trends in enrollment, academic performance, graduation rates, proficiency rates.
Schools had until Monday to submit their application, so none of them are currently published on the Department of Education website, but here is Academia Antonia Alonso Charter School’s application for renewal from last year for an example.
Some of the most recent examples of charters not being renewed are the Academy of Public Safety and Security in 2018, the Delaware College Preparatory Academy in 2016 and Reach Academy for Girls in 2015.
Financial viability, academic performance, and low enrollment are prominent reasons why charters have not been renewed in the past, said Kendall Massett, executive director of the Delaware Charter Schools Network.
“The number one reason that charter schools fail is lack of governance at the board level and that then usually shows up in your financials,” she said.
She said a big reason why renewals happen after a five-year period is so the state can judge any trends rather than only judging a school based on one year of data points.
Each school will go through several hearings over the next couple of months, including an initial Charter Schools Accountability Committee meeting and public hearings.
To view the timeline of meetings and reviews for each individual school, as well as finding live streams to the public hearings, click here.
At the same time, Great Oaks is trying to meet all 22 conditions from the state after low enrollment triggered a formal state review of the school in 2022.
According to the school, most already have been met.
Some of those conditions were:
- An authorized enrollment of 200 students, rather than 325, for the 2023-2024 school year.
- Must submit a revised budget for the current school year that aligns with its current enrollment of 236 students.
- Must meet 90% of its authorized enrollment by April 1, 2023. That is 180 students.
- Submit a plan on how it intends to build cash reserves back up and meet the state’s financial framework performance metrics.
- A detailed plan for the six teachers that are currently not licensed and certified in the area that they’re teaching.
- Evaluations for administrators and teachers.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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