Another Delaware charter school facing closure

 (photo courtesy Reach Academy)

(photo courtesy Reach Academy)

Less than a year after the Department of Education closed Pencader Charter High School, another school’s charter could be on the chopping block.

The Delaware Department of Education’s Charter School Accountability Committee voted not to recommend the charter renewal of Reach Academy for Girls.

The K-8th grade school opened in 2010 and was also put on probation in 2011.

According to Delaware’s DOE,  the school is not meeting the standards of the Academic Performance Framework. Data shows proficiency levels fall “far” below the standard and student achievement is among the lowest in the state.

“For example, only 25.1 percent of students finished the school year proficient in mathematics last year; 42.5 percent were so in English language arts (ELA),” DOE explained in a release. “The percentage of students meeting their growth targets in 2012-13 was only 26.8 percent in mathematics and 36.4 percent in ELA.”

If education Secretary Mark Murphy upholds the committee’s recommendation, the school would be forced to close at the end of the academic year.

A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday where parents, students and school officials can address some of the issues.

Tina Betz, a member of the Reach board of directors, said they’re still thinking and acting positively, and have no plans to close.

“We’re totally focused on addressing the concerns that were raised, what it is we have been doing, and what it is that we are doing, and what it is that we are planning to do to continue to grow the girls who are, who have been part of the Reach Academy family,” said Betz.

She added that parents are standing behind the school.

“The parents are fully on board with helping to prove during the next round of hearings to the board, that the board of education should allow reach to continue,” said Betz. “So the reaction from the parents, there is some concern, of course, but I think the concern lies in the students losing the type of opportunity that reach academy provides.”

In February, DOE revoked Pencader’s charter due to lagging student performance and mismanagement among the board. Betz said they’re not drawing similarities between Reach’s situation and Pencader’s since Pencader’s charter was revoked and Reach’s is up for renewal.

“Each school is different. Each school has its own set of challenges and has to chart its own course,” said Betz.

Three other charter schools were also up for renewal this year. The committee recommended the charter renewal of Kuumba Academy Charter in Wilmington, Newark Charter and Positive Outcomes Charter in Camden.

The public hearing for Reach will be held on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in conference room C at Delaware Technical Community College’s Wilmington campus.

Secretary Murphy will give the final decision on Reach Academy during the State Board of Education’s meeting on Nov. 12.

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