Reach Academy leaders fight to keep charter school open

Despite the Delaware Dept. of Education’s decision to not renew the charter of Reach Academy for Girls, school leaders are looking at every possible option to keep the school open.

“I haven’t gotten any sense that the option that has been placed on the table by the board of education is the final option,” said board member Tina Betz. “There’s no sense of that at all.”

Based on the DOE’s decision, the K-8 all-girls school will be forced to close at the end of this school year.

Education Secretary Mark Murphy said the decision came down to the school’s poor academic performance.

“We see positive and honorable intentions and a school that looked to serve students from challenging backgrounds, but after four years, we have not seen an ability to meet these students’ needs,” he said. “Other charters serving high-need students, including those serving a higher proportion of low-income students, are performing significantly better. The girls at Reach Academy deserve much better.”

Data showed proficiency levels fall “far below” the standard, and student achievement is among the lowest in the state.

Betz called the decision “disappointing,” and said it was made based on the fact that they’ve had four years to make improvements to the school. In reality, Betz said the school’s current leadership has only had two years to turn things around.

“The two years prior to that, there had been another group of people who took the school in a downward spiral,” she said.

Even under the best circumstances, Betz said two years isn’t enough time to make significant improvements.

She said the board will discuss strategy at an upcoming meeting and hopes to find a way to keep the school in operation.

“There are several options that are being considered by the board,” she said. “We will be meeting as a group early next week. There is some research that various members of the board are doing both on a local, regional and national level.”

Betz also said they aren’t ready to discuss closure procedures or other options for students just yet.

“We were contacted by the charter school office asking to do that,” she said. “We are not at the point where we think that is necessary.”

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.

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