Delaware Dept. of Ed. working with troubled Pencader

Pencader Charter High School and Delaware’s Dept. of Education continue discussions, as the floundering charter school teeters between early closure or bankruptcy.

Pencader’s board of directors says it needs $350,000 to cover closing costs, largely, and teachers’ salaries.  Board president Frank McIntosh feels the DOE should foot the bill since it revoked Pencader’s charter in February.

“There was no reason to budget for something we did not know was going to happen,” said McIntosh.

McIntosh sent a three page letter, dated April 16th, to Education Secretary Mark Murphy requesting the $350,000, outlining why the state should cover the shortfall. His reasoning: the state approved Pencader’s budget knowing there would be a budget gap if the school was shut down.

“Our position is that the state closed us down and now must bear the costs of that closure in that Pencader does not have the funds to do so themselves,” McIntosh said.

According to the state, staff from DOE, the Office of Management and Budget and the Dept. of Finance have been working closely with Pencader’s board leadership. However, education leaders say some fuzzy math on Pencader’s part needs clarification before both sides can work towards a solution.

“While we are in receipt of your letter dated April 16, 2013, as recently as Thursday, April 18, our team met with yours and discovered significant discrepancies in the numbers stated in that letter,” Mary Kate McLaughlin, DOE’s Chief of Staff wrote in a letter to McIntosh. “In an attempt to resolve the discrepancies, Pencader has been unable to provide responses to specific requests from DOE, OMB and Finance staff as we seek to determine a path forward for the school.”

DOE says it received additional informaiton from Pencader this morning and is currently reviewing it.

Meantime, one thing both sides agree on is neither wants to see the school close on April 30.

“It is our expectation that Pencader Charter will fulfill its responsibilities to ensure that students will complete their credits at the school. We have been working closely with your team to that end,” McLaughlin stated.

“We are doing everything we can to NOT CLOSE Pencader HS on April 30th. However, it does remain as a possibility,” McIntosh said.

Should Pencader close next week, all of its students would fan out into their respective school feeder patterns to finish out the year.

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