Springfield charter may close after losing its sponsorship

The Springfield Academy of Excellence will likely shut down in June after the state dropped its sponsorship.

The charter school, which has more than 250 students, scored far below the performance standards expected in its sponsorship contract, according to a letter from the Ohio Department of Education to the school.

“That means for (the 2015-16 school year) the Springfield Academy of Excellence will not exist as it is,” Principal Edna Chapman said.

The school board is “exploring all of its options,” she said, but declined to comment further and advised that the board members would have more answers. The Springfield Academy of Excellence board president didn’t return calls for comment Tuesday.

But the academy sent a letter to parents on Friday inviting them to a meeting at 5 p.m. today in the cafeteria to hear “more details about our closing.”

“Your child will need to enroll in a new school/district for the upcoming school year,” the letter says.

The Ohio Department of Education’s Office of School Sponsorship entered a one-year contract with the academy for the 2014-15 school year. To be considered for renewal the academy was expected to meet or exceed standards set forth in the contract, according to the letter dated Jan. 30, but the school only met one of the five primary standards.

“The poor ratings on both the primary and secondary academic indicators show that the Academy has failed to meet the student performance requirements stated in the contract,” ODE School Sponsorship Director Mark Michael wrote in the letter.

The school received Ds or Fs in most of the categories on its latest state report cards.

The Springfield Academy of Excellence didn’t meet any of the 24 state standards and received an F grade in both standards met and annual measurable objectives. The school also received a D in performance index.

The school, however, showed improvement in progress measurements, earning a B and Cs in the value-added categories that measure how much progress students made in one year.

The academy has at least 34 employees, according to a recent state audit.

Some families of current students, like Star Pennington and her third-grade nephew, said they were shocked when students brought home the letter Friday.

“We thought they (were) doing pretty good with the teaching here,” Pennington said outside of the school Tuesday. “We didn’t know that it was to that point of them closing.”

Her family has been very satisfied with the level of education her nephew has received at the school, she said, and the academy caught him up to his current grade level when he was behind.

“It’s a good school and they got a good staff,” Pennington said. “They just probably need a little more time or somebody to work with them.”

Only two charter schools — the Springfield Preparatory and Fitness Academy and Cliff Park High School — will remain in the city after Springfield Academy of Excellence shuts its doors at the end of the school year.

“Education in Ohio has become competitive,” said David Estrop, superintendent of the Springfield City School District.

The academy contacted the city school district more than a month ago to report that it lost its sponsorship, Estrop said, and then confirmed a week ago the academy would close.

Springfield city schools will send information to any academy families that live in the district, Estrop said.

“We compete (for students) at a high level and parents are voting with their feet by sending their children to Springfield City Schools,” he said.