Kinston Charter Academy surrendered its charter Wednesday afternoon, moments before the State Board of Education was set to initiate the revocation of its charter, which would have ultimately closed the school. More than 230 students must now find a new school to attend beginning Monday.
Kinston Charter Academy has had significant fiscal and academic problems. The school had a $347,000 deficit in 2007 and has been delinquent in payments to the NC Treasurer. Kinston Charter has also demonstrated inadequate growth in students’ academic performance, and has been noncompliant with Race to the Top requirements as well as federal requirements related to its Title I status. Cash flow problems have resulted in late payments for facilities and operations expenses.
Last year, Kinston Charter Academy’s reading proficiency score was 38.1% and math proficiency score was 36.4%. The state averages were 71.2% and 82.8% respectively.
The school does have a high poverty student population. Ninety-seven percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch.
State Board of Education member Buddy Collins said he’s concerned about the local school district, Lenoir County Public Schools, which must deal with the fallout of Kinston Charter Academy’s closing.
“Dumping 230 students into a small school district will cause financial problems,” said Collins. How will the school system ramp up its instructional staff to accommodate Kinston Charter’s students by Monday, once they have no school to attend, he inquired.
DPI officials said there were ways to get funds to the local school district quickly so they could hire the teachers they need.
A transition team is in place to help families and Lenoir County navigate the process of placing students into new schools.
WITN reports that Kinston Charter Academy’s principal sent a letter to parents asking them to immediately enroll their children in the local public school system or nearby Children’s Village Academy, another public charter school in Kinston.
Children’s Village Academy was close to losing its charter just a few months ago. That school has also had significant financial problems, but for now they remain open.