Raleigh charter school vows to stay open despite financial woes
Posted January 9, 2015
Updated January 10, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The operators of a charter school for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities will tell state officials Monday that they should be able to keep operating after making strides fixing budget and curriculum issues.
Dynamic Community Charter School opened in 2014 to serve middle-and high-school students. Members of the North Carolina Charter School Advisory Board will decide whether they need to keep monitoring the school’s progress or recommend that the North Carolina Board of Education revoke the school’s charter.
The main issue for the school is funding. School officials say they have trimmed what was a $500,000 deficit in December down to $280,000, and aim to eliminate the shortfall completely by the end of the school year.
Officials said the initial budget presented in December was inaccurate.
“We have an action item for everything on that list,” Lead Administrator Terri Zobel said, referring to a list of concerns the Department of Public Instruction gave the school in December. “Most of these things were already being corrected before we ever received that document. Every school in the state – public, private, doesn’t matter – is always concerned about finances.”
The state says Dynamic could have to be liable for another $200,000 in fees that would result from re-teaching students who were given lessons by teachers who were not properly certified.
“Certain children are identified as having learning disabilities, and because of that ID, they receive special services,” Joel Medley, director of the state’s Office of Charter Schools, said. “If those services aren’t provided, which is a federal law, then that means they are not in compliance with their charter agreement with the state Board of Education.”
Zobel said non-compliance is a worst-case scenario.
“We will put together the real scenario of how many kids had that problem,” she said.
Zobel and parents of students at the school say they are confident they will show the state that they will meet the financial needs of the school and educational needs of the students.
“I’m certainly concerned. I see it more as a challenge, though,” Sara Brady, the president of the school’s parent board, said. “Special-needs parents are accustomed to really fighting for their children, and we would not be fighting this hard if we did not believe in the mission of this school.”
Brady said she's "absolutely" confident that Dynamic can meet her child's needs.
"When it comes down to it, it's not about dollars. It's not about policy. It's about the children and how to best serve this population of students," she said.
If the Charter School Advisory Board votes Monday to make a recommendation to revoke the school's charter, it would go before the full state Board of Education in February or March.