Good news of the week—brick-and-mortar edition
Utica Shale Academy in Salineville, Ohio, announced this week that it had received a construction grant from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia. School leaders say that much of their expansion project is “shovel ready” and that the money will be put to work very quickly to help build a huge new facility to serve more students. Congratulations! Meanwhile, Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland is celebrating its new Green Infrastructure Grant from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District which will not only make the building and grounds more eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, but also will create numerous opportunities for students to learn about the technology and how it works. Fantastic!
Good news of the week—virtual edition
This story may not sound at first like good news: Northeast Ohio teenager Eliana Rosario is still experiencing numerous long-Covid symptoms more than two and a half years after first contracting the disease. However, she calls Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) her “saving grace” through it all. She was able to work flexibly and concentrate on her school work as her illness developed and her treatments changed. And she says that the ability to keep moving forward at this atypical pace kept her from falling behind. OHVA 12th grade principal Megan Daley notes that Eliana is not alone in needing or embracing the flexibility of virtual learning over the last few years. And Eliana sees yet another silver lining to her experiences: “I get to share with people that life happens, but don’t give up because good things can come out of it.” Well said.
Very happy anniversary
Rocketship Schools co-founder Preston Smith spoke to author Richard Whitmire for this piece in The 74, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the high-quality charter operator and reflected on the ups and downs of Rocketship’s development. Their model has always focused on parent empowerment and partnership in education, a bedrock principle that was shaken by Covid disruption. However, Smith says their pandemic pivots kept that partnership firmly in mind, making them even more creative and allowing them to weather the disruptions more smoothly than other schools.
Not all the news can be good
Last week, we noted a charter school announced to open in the Columbus suburb of Westerville—likely the first to locate there. Sadly, the Westerville Planning Commission rejected a conditional use permit for the school proposed to take over empty office space, citing traffic concerns. It is unclear right now what, if any, next steps the school’s operators might pursue, but here’s hoping that city administrators will work with them in good faith to try every possible pathway to make it happen.
The view from Indiana
Two major developments for charter schools in Indiana this week. First up, the House Education Committee made changes to a bill that would effectively “sunset” the state’s law requiring school districts to offer unused buildings to charter schools for $1 in 2025. This compromise would allow several potential sales under the law to conclude before it is eliminated and looks forward to additional changes in state law which would direct facilities funding to charters in the future. Second, the board of Indianapolis Public Schools approved its 2023-24 budget this week, several provisions of which will direct more funding to charter schools partnered with the district. This reflects the enrollment growth in those schools over the last several years as well as the continued increases projected.
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