Cumberland Times-News

Local News

January 31, 2013

Schools’ chief recommends denial of charter application

Riverside Academy would increase financial burden on school system

OAKLAND — Garrett County Superintendent of Schools Janet Wilson is recommending that the Board of Education deny an application for a proposed charter school in Kitzmiller. Six committees reviewed the application submitted by Kitzmiller Charter School Initiative Inc. and, for the most part, the analysis of the application yielded unfavorable recommendations, ac-cording to Wilson’s recommendation.

“I concur with the analysis and subsequent recommendations made by members of the six review committees,” Wilson wrote in her recommendation “Although my recommendation to deny the charter school application could stand alone, the addendum to this recommendation also ad-dresses the fiscal implications of granting the charter application during a period of declining student enrollment and unprecedented financial hardships for the Garrett County Public Schools.”

Wilson noted that granting the application for Riverside Academy would increase the financial burden on the school system as a whole and would result in the need of further school closings, student redistricting, reductions in force of staff and the continued inability to meet negotiated employee pay scales.  

“What is clear and compelling is that there will be a significant impact to all Garrett County public schools and all students should Riverside Academy become a reality,” wrote Wilson.

Under Maryland law, a county board of education must fund a public charter school with an amount “that is commensurate with the amount disbursed to other public schools in the local jurisdiction,” according to the state Department of Education.

The doors to Dennett Road and Kitzmiller Elementary closed permanently in May of last year and Bloomington Elementary closed in 2011.

“These closures represent 20 percent of the 15 schools that served Garrett County in fiscal 2011,” Wilson wrote. “These closures, as well as corresponding reductions in force and other significant reductions or eliminations of programs, while painstakingly difficult for the elected Board of Education, were necessary to ensure the ability of the Board to continue to meet its obligations of providing a free quality education program to all children of Garrett County.”

The closing of Dennett Road and Kitzmiller elementary schools saved about $1 million and $279,000, respectively, helping to close a shortfall of $2 million.

The school board will vote on Wilson’s recommendation during a special meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Southern Middle School.

To read the recommendation in it’s entirety, visit the BOE website at www.ga.k12. md.us.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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