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Wilmington charter school gets more time to boost enrollment

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RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) -- Douglass Academy's doors will remain open for now, despite not having enough students.

The Office of Charter Schools today voted to suggest to waive this year's enrollment numbers. The State Board of Education will make the final decision.

Thirty-three students attend Douglass Academy in Wilmington. State statute requires at least 65.

"It sounds like they've stubbed their toe at every turn," Office of Charter Schools member Steven Walker said during a hearing today in Raleigh.

Douglass Academy Headmaster Barbra Jones says issues with finding a suitable facility and with marketing are to blame for the low numbers. She said the school also had problems with 6,000 advertisements mailed to homes of potential students, which affected its numbers.

"I've been told from several people in the community that they have a wait and see attitude," said Jones.

Jones says there are 77 students enrolled for the 2014-2015 school year.

"We've got all the pieces in place," Douglass board chair John Ferrante said. "It's happening."

The Office of Charter Schools will reexamine the number of students October.

Jones told the board Douglass Academy had issues with identifying a building for the school. She says this caused doubt in the target demographic the school aims to serve, which are the different public housing communities around the city.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Am I the only who thinks this is wrong?

Schools system determine the amount of money it takes to educate a student for a year. Those costs include transportation, meals (many free meals in this state), sports programs and "arts" programs.

Charter schools then get that same amount without having to approximate the same services like Roger Bacon Academy. Then charters schools make a tidy profit and everyone points to them as an example of the "free market" doing the job better than public schools, completely missing the fact they're not being required to offer the same services.

It's like going to get your oil changed, paying the same amount and finding out you have to put the new oil in yourself.

I'm sure these schools do well with their students and I personally know some parents are very pleased with these schools; however, I think the compensation shoud be itemized and the schools should only receive that allotment per student in which they provide the service.
Your school doesn't offer transportation, you don't get budget for that. No sports, ditto....etc

It seems to be a wiser user of our tax dollars.

I wouldn't either

I wouldn't talk with either. WWAY has done nothing but slam RBA over the last 6 months. You have been bias as you can be and I am not sure why. Other then the RBA students are better than the public school system.

OK, let hear the crap from people who kids weren't good enough to go there.

I'm not sure if you are

I'm not sure if you are aware of how a charter school operates. Getting your student enrolled there has nothing to do with being good enough. It has everything to do with their so called lottery. By the looks of the news reports the lottery isn't an issue either due to the fact these schools cant get the attendance numbers they require to even operate. Uniforms and hair cuts are non issues also. Every school has a dress code.
Speaking from both ends had having my children in private school,(real private school where I pay for them to attend; not a charter school that pulls money from the public school budget so people can pretend they attend an elite school) and having just transitioned one of my children to public school I'll have to say you are way off base when it comes to the school system. It really isn't an awful option. Granted this is our oldest child and our first year in a public school setting but it really has been positive. Parents have to stay in touch with teachers and hold their student and themselves accountable. Parents don't want to put in the work these days. Its our responsibility to raise our kids and require them to be successful. I think some of us need to hold ourselves and our children to a higher standard instead of blaming it on the school system.

Your comment implies that

Your comment implies that the school was able to select and/or reject students. I bet the real public schools of North Carolina would like this option.

select and/or reject students

Sharon, that is not it at all. You have students that get there and decide it isn't good enough for them. RBA has rules that require uniforms, no braids or hair over the ears, etc. They have to be respectful to the teachers and fellow students. So, I was being sarcastic with the not good enough comment.

JJ - thanks for leaving your

JJ - thanks for leaving your feedback.

If you would, please take a minute and look back at all of our stories and show us where we were biased.

We take our credibility very seriously and if you're going to call us out as biased on this story, I would like to see the evidence please.

Thanks!

sp

Scott Pickey
WWAY News Director

My Reply

Scott, why hasn't my replied to you post been posted?

Because it had nothing to do

Because it had nothing to do with the bias you alleged.

sp

WWAY

So, being I am right and you are wrong you don't post it and have the right to say it had nothing to do with the bias. Post it and let everyone else decide.

Agree

Scott,

You fail to focus on any of the positive things that RBA does. Do a story and focus on their scores. Look at their lack of behavior problems. Look at the parents who sacrifice so much in order to bring their children to RBA schools. No lunch, no transportation-- but still they continue to turn children away each year---even with all of the negative reporting from WWAY.

I agree there is money being made, but there is also money being invested that you are not accounting for.

If there is so much money to be made in public education, where is that money going in our traditional public schools? Remember RBA gets less money per child than the county / city schools.

Lois you are very mistaken

Lois you are very mistaken when it comes to the amount of money per student. They get close to $7,000 per student. Almost $3,000 of that comes out of the public school system.I dont think thats much less then public gets per student. That accounts for a large amount of the money you are questioning. Money is being taken from the traditional school system and padding the pockets of RBA. I agree it does take effort on a parents end to drop off and pick up everyday and pack lunches. I would like to point out that these are also simple task every parent is responsible for. Parents who chose to forego the traditional school system and attend private schools or in this case a charter school that dosent provide the buses or hot lunches made that choice. Its pointless to to shed light on these minute task to improve RBA reputation... they shouldn't be allowed to turn away anybody! They operate on tax payer dollars. Anyone who pays taxes should be able to attend if they want to...

Tara, Your figures are not

Tara,

Your figures are not correct, but that is not the real point here.

The Roger Bacon Academy is not taking ANY money from the public schools. The parents who make the CHOICE to leave the traditional public schools (for whatever reason) are the ones who bring the money to The Roger Bacon Academy. Big Difference.

Thank goodness there is a choice. Where there is competition, the bar is raised.

Roger Bacon Academy has been

Roger Bacon Academy has been in existence since 1999. The public school system has not improved during that time. It has declined. The "competition" hasn't done anything to raise the bar.

Lois - you are completely

Lois - you are completely misinformed about the money.

For each student who attends a charter school - the county school district pays $2,464 to the charter school and the state pays $4,692.

Parents aren't bringing ANY money to Roger Bacon except to pay fees for extracurricular activities.

Taxpayers in Brunswick County and across the state are paying for the kids to study there - not parents.

The question we can't get answered is, how much of that tax money is Baker Mitchell spending on the students who attend his charter schools and how much is he putting in his and other administrators's pockets? He refuses to answer that question.

sp

Scott Pickey
WWAY News Director

You are playing on words

Scott,

Granted, taxpayers pay taxes that go to educate the child. The parents make the choice on where to send their child to school, which basically means that the parents control the money.

I will not argue with you about the amount of money. You have obviously done your homework. Thank you for that.

What I do not understand is why you are so obsessed with the amount of money that Mr. Mitchell is making from his investment. If so much money is available, then why -- oh why-- are the traditional public school having to cut teachers and teacher assistants because of their school budgets? Why are so many of the schools in need of repairs?

If Mr. Mitchell really is making so much money off of 3 very small charter schools, then where is all the money being spent in the traditional public schools? Maybe it would be a good news story to find out. Instead of cutting teachers and their pay, maybe more fiscal accountability is needed.

Bottom line is....parents deserve a choice. We choose where to buy our cars. We choose where to worship. We choose which news station to listen to. We deserve a choice on where to send our children for their education.

Scott - You are playing games

Scott,

The taxpayers' money follow the student. The parents make the choice where to send their children, therefore control the money.

Instead of being so obsessed with how much money Mr. Mitchell is making, why not demand that the traditional public schools use the taxpayers' money they are receiving more wisely. If there is so much money to line administrators' pockets in a small charter school...where is all that money going that is given to the traditional public schools? Not to the teachers. Not to the teacher assistants....all we hear about is cutting teachers and teacher assistants throughout the state.

Maybe the traditional public schools could learn something from the way The Roger Bacon Academy is being run. Their test scores are higher. Students are on wait lists to get a seat.

Not all parents want their children to go to a charter school, but it is very nice that parents in our area have the CHOICE on where to send their children. Until a charter school was available, that choice was not available...unless you could afford to send your child to a private school.

We choose where to worship. We choose where to buy groceries. We choose which station to watch the news. It is good that this community can choose where to send their children for an education.

re: Lois - you are completely

Scott,

Why is it so important to know how Baker Mitchell spends his money? Do you ask the same question of James Doss, owner of RX Restaurant? Or Davie Waggett, owner of Winterpark and Sea Shore Discount Drugs?

Baker Mitchell doesn't owe anyone an explanation of how his money is spent. The ownership and lease back to his own company is not illegal. Many partners in medical practices all over Wilmington do the exact same thing.

Baker is producing a quality product...as in well-behaved students who consistently score higher than the same kids in the same grades that attend public school.

Scott, first THANK YOU for

Scott, first THANK YOU for your interest in and pursuit of this! I would imagine that you have read this article:

http://www.bluenc.com/charter-mismanagement-costs-taxpayers-big-time

I believe that RBA should be registered as a tax exempt organization and would be subject to annual reporting reqiurements (Form 990) but have yet to be able to find this on Guidestar.

Keep your teeth sunk into this.

Money and public schools

Tara1980, I find your post interesting. To start the reason they would turn someone away is if they didn't have a slot for them. If they have 50 slots and 60 kids applying then 10 of the students will not be able to go.

The Public schools receives more money per student that the Charter School does. The base money is the same, but the public school still gets the transportation and the free lunch money (if the child qualifies for it) even with the child not even going to the public school.

I have look around and see the condition the public schools are in and the BOE always asking for more money. There is to much waste in the public school system. If RBA can make money (what everyone is saying) then why can't the public school do the same.

Maybe, that would be a good store for WWAY to go after.

JJ- I'll say again if the

JJ- I'll say again if the charter school is using tax payer money to operate then they should not be allowed to turn away any student. The public system and RBA run off the same money, if a public school cant turn away a student then RBA shouldn't be able to either. Their should always be a "slot" available.They are a public school operating on public tax dollars not a private school. A private school does reserve the right to deny admission because they aren't depended on money from the government. The money given to the public school system and the money allocated to the charter schools are very close in amount. My issue with that is it takes away resources from a school system people deem weak. Every penny is accounted for in the traditional system and used to the last cent. RBA makes money by not using the funds accordingly. I doubt all $7,000 per student is put into resources. Its the way that school is set up to allow a profit to the founder that has everyone upset. It takes money from the school system! The children who attend are deprived because of charters, not enough text books or media resources; not because the budget wasn't used accordingly but due to the fact the budget is less thanks to RBA and other area charters taking money from the traditional budget. The public school does make money by fundraising and so does the private school I have my youngest attending. RBA should do the same thing instead of using tax payer money. For me it goes back to working hard and earning your success. RBA only exist due to that traditonal budget and random people taking advantage of a system that has flaws but over all does meet the needs of the students.

I'll say again if the Tara

Tara you could not be any further from the truth. The few students that RBA takes from a school system shouldn't hurt the system. If each public school teacher have 25+ students in a class that is 175000 dollars per class. If the teacher is paid $50k (most are not) then that leaves 125000 per class room. Now figure out how much that is for each school with 30+ classes. That would be over 6 million per school at a minimum. I really don't think a system losing 30 kids (remember RBA services all the counties in the area) is going to hurt them.

Also, it the school system wasn't spending so much money on sports and playing fields they might have more money.

Now, on your second point (I might be wrong on this), but they have only so many slots and that might be set by the Charter School Board in Raleigh. Even if there isn't a limit set by the state and they would take everyone, what would we do with the BD of ED? They wouldn't have any students to go to their schools..

I've had two boys to go through their system and I can see what they can do and how well their system works. So, if you think it is about them taking a lot of money from the school system, I think you are wrong. People don't like it because it works and the public school system doesn't. They have to meet a standard just like the public system does and most of the time their scores are higher than the public system is. Why? They limit the number of students in a class and they break the kids off into their skill level. This means that if a child is in the 2nd grade and can read on a 4th grade level that child is moved to that level. This doesn't happen in public school where the child would be held back to the lowest level child.

The issue isn't the children

The issue isn't the children attending other schools then the public school they should attend. Believe me I'm all about making the choices that best benefit your situation. My issue is the charters getting money from the public school budget. Offer another option but do it on your own dime. You are wrong about the children being held back to the lowest level of the class. I worried about this because of my son being a fairly fantastic student but they do offer programs for children who excel just like they have them for those who struggle. Its not about the amount of money the charters get its the fact they get any at all from the public system! As always there will be pros and cons to everything, I'm very pleased with the schools my children attend as you seem to be with yours.

Tara1980

Tara,

The legislature mandated that charter schools be funded in the same manner as public schools are even though they are privately owned and operated.

The law addressed only the funding...not whether a charter schools is required to take every student who applies. Charter schools operate on a finite teacher/pupil ratio with admittance determined by a lottery system.

Taxpayer- I'm well aware of

Taxpayer- I'm well aware of how their system works! Thanks for clarifying it tho.......