There are now two problems--space to run the school and staffing!!
A week after announcing that an Edgewater charter school would be shuttered, its divided leadership last night formally voted for the school to remain open in a stunning turnaround.So with a little less than two months before the school is to re-open, KIPP Harbor Academy lacks teachers and lacks a place to hold classes.
But the 3-2 vote by the board of KIPP Harbor Academy left more questions than answers: Where the school would operate? Who would be its principal? And who would staff it since 10 of the 12 teachers have found new jobs?
"We have two teachers and one staff person. ... We're in a very difficult position," said Steve Mancini, a spokesman for the acclaimed Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP.
The decision to stay open, which came over the objections of Principal Jallon Brown, appears to keep the Harbor Academy from becoming the first among 52 KIPP schools to close because of lack of space.
To keep up with the national model that calls for adding a grade a year until it has fifth through eighth grades, KIPP asked the county school board in April to lease space at Annapolis Middle School.Despite the fact that charter schools operate independent of teh bureaucratic rules that govern traditional public schools, charters have to walk through a minefield of political posturing and beg for space to hold classes. KIPP Harbor Academy's experiences are not all that new and because of all the politics surrouding the existence of charters, it is likely to face other obstacles as well.
It has more than 900 empty seats, while KIPP needed to house 120 fifth- and sixth-graders and the expected incoming seventh-grade class of nearly 90.
The school board, however, said it needed the classrooms at Annapolis Middle for new programs and overflow space during future renovations of nearby schools.
KIPP maintained its search, pleading with churches and shopping centers, without success. Discouraged, it sent to parents a note June 20 abruptly announcing the school's immediate closure. That prompted panic - and anger - among parents and the staff.
One sort of political posturing still exists--the racial aspects. Like most charter schools in Maryland, KIPP Harbor Academy has a largely minority and poor student body:
"If this was over a bunch of white middle-class children, I guarantee you we wouldn't be facing this," said Kate Finley, a former teacher who has accepted a new job with a KIPP school in Washington. "My leaving had nothing to do with the parents, teachers or kids at Harbor Academy. I couldn't stay and work for a district that would treat its own staff and teachers this way."Parents and community leaders are still not sure what happened or what the plan of action will be, but Finley may be right, if this were kids like the school boards kids, a plan would have been developed and in place by now.
Still no one is sure what is going to happen.