Selected readings on US charter schools
Head of School, Jonah Sims, says the closing of the school is because of a lack of funds. He says that charter schools are closing across the state, including nearly a dozen over the previous summer. Sims says that charter schools only receive 42 percent of the funds that a traditional public school gets. He added that other perks charter schools miss out on include money for construction, money for sports programs and money from municipal bonds. A frustrated Sims noted that well-performing charter schools are being closed, while substandard public schools remain open.
Sims said the only way to keep the school open was through fund raisers and grants. “We’ve had to fund raise for the past four years and it’s just a never-ending process for charter schools,” he said. Sims added that the school has had to survive on approximately $250,000 annually in fund raising for the past four years. He says that operations simply could not be sustained.
Sims went on to say that the only way to increase funds was through increasing enrollment. With the school’s size, he says that was next to impossible. School officials tried to complete work on refurbishing a former church on Brooks Street, but an increase in costs associated with the lack of cooperation from the federal government led to that project, and any hopes of increased enrollment, to die. An emotional Rick Wagner, a member of the ISC board, told those at the meeting that school officials and contractors worked to get waivers from the Dept. of Homeland Security for anti-terrorism features for the new location, but the federal officials refused. That decision, said Wagner, added approximately $300,000 to construction costs. Money, he said, the school did not have.
State Representative Milo Smith was the lone politician who attended Wednesday evening’s meeting. He said he showed up to support the students. “I want to make for certain that they don’t miss out on the education we promised them as a state,” said Smith.
Smith praised the work of the ISC board, staff members and parents who did all they could to keep the school running. He also praised Ball State University for offering to extend help to those students who will need help transitioning to other schools. Smith says he talked with a Ball State Official about insuring that each student will have a smooth transition. “As I understand it, if some kids need some help, maybe some additional tutoring and transitioning to another school, that will be provided as well,” said Smith. “We focus on what’s best for the kids,” he said.
Friday will be the final day for ISC students.