A struggling charter school closed since December agreed to stay closed for this entire school year as it tries to right its ship and repay about $56,000 in taxpayer funding it owes the district, according to a plan unanimously approved by the Palm Beach County School Board tonight.
If the My Choice Academy can’t fix all of its problems by next March its contract to exist as a school will be terminated permanently.
My Choice opened at the start of last school year in Riviera Beach but closed at the end of the first semester, forcing about 100 students to go to other schools, after the school lost its lease. According to the school’s website My Choice secured a new location in West Palm Beach and intended to reopen this year.
Superintendent Wayne Gent recommended terminating My Choice’s charter contract in March, citing a long list of financial and academic issues, but the board deadlocked 3-3 on that recommendation. The district then created a plan for the school to attempt to reopen this year.
My Choice was required to fix several things such as showing proof its principal and teachers had been trained in new Common Core academic standards and creating a plan of how state textbook funding would be used.
According to an Aug. 19 letter from Gent to the school, as of the start of the school year My Choice had still made several of the fixes. The school also still owes the district about $40,000 in state funding the charter received for students the district served after My Choice closed last year and another $16,000 received from the state this summer in anticipation of the school operating this year.
The agreement negotiated between the district’s attorneys and the charter school forces the school to stay closed for the entire 2013-14 school year and receive no funding from the state. It also requires the school to hire a management company and fix all the issues by March 1, 2014. If the school can’t provide proof it has made all the required corrections by March 1, its charter contract will be voluntarily terminated and the school will be required to waive any right to appeal, according to the agreement.
Corey Smith, legal counsel for My Choice, thanked the district for negotiating the agreement and said the founders of the school already had invested thousands of dollars of their own money into making the school work.
“We look forward to suceeding in the future,” Smith said.
In other business, the district:
Promoted S.D. Spady Elementary School Assistant Principal Rona Tata to take over as principal of the Delray Beach school. S.D. Spady’s current principal, Martha O’Hare, is retiring.
Added $2.3 million to a contract with the NAPA auto parts company to supply the district with school bus parts, bringing the total cost of the contract up to about $4.4 million. According to a district report the increase is needed in part because the average age of buses in the fleet in increasing, leading to more breakdowns and more demand for bus parts.