School loses appeal to keep its state charter

16 percent of school’s applicants live in Wilson County

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SPRING HOPE — A charter school with plans to be based in southern Nash County has lost the fight to keep its state charter.

The North Carolina State Board of Education voted Dec. 6 to accept the review panel’s recommendation to immediately revoke Global Achievers School’s charter. The school had appealed the board’s November decision to revoke its charter for failure to meet the state’s minimum requirement for student enrollment.

School founder and Principal Lisa Swinson and Global Achievers board member Holly Whistler met with the board’s review panel on Dec. 4 to discuss the issues surrounding the school’s low enrollment numbers. According to the school’s recommendation, the decline in enrollment was due to the need to temporarily move its location from Spring Hope to Rocky Mount as well as the effects of Hurricane Florence on Wilson County, where about 16 percent of the school’s accepted applicants reside.

Global Achievers School opened August of this year in the historic Spaulding school building, which also houses the Spaulding Resource Center, in Spring Hope. However, a combination of inadequate building conditions and the inability to secure modular buildings for the site forced the school to temporarily move its location to the former Falls Road Baptist Church building in Rocky Mount. The school has been providing transportation to the Rocky Mount campus for children within a 15-mile radius and using Spaulding as a satellite pickup site where parents can drop off their children.

School enrollment dropped well below the estimated 240 students projected for the 2018-19 school year to 63 students in October. As of Nov. 29, enrollment had dropped to just 47 students. The state requires a minimum of 80 students to operate as a charter school. Global Achievers currently has students in grades K-3, and had plans to add an additional grade each year through eighth grade.

School officials were finalizing Global Achievers’ transition plan Monday. Swinson said she is disappointed in the board’s decision and feels the school is meeting its students’ academic, social and emotional needs.

“It is a difficult decision to send them back to their previous schools when the parents have chosen us and we’re doing an excellent job educating them. Several of our parents have commented that this school year was the first time that their child did not have to be drug out of bed each morning to go to school. We take their natural curiosities and energy and use it to our advantage. The State Board of Education never noted any concerns about our academics,” Swinson said.

The state board’s charter schools financial and governance noncompliance policy states in part that upon a vote to revoke a public charter school’s charter, “the charter school’s financial activity with regards to state, federal and local district funding must be discontinued upon the effective date of revocation, or ‘closing period.’”

The policy defines the closing period as “the length of time given the school to successfully close their business with regards to state, federal and local district funding, which should be the end of the month that the revocation becomes effective.”

Students should be able to complete the semester at Global Achievers and begin at public schools within their designated districts in January.