Board members met Saturday and decided to postpone a decision on the school’s future until Sept. 1 after their receive more information about the school’s capital and operational budgets.
Plans for the school grew out of the consolidation of Jonesville and Lockhart high schools with Union High School two years ago. At the time, many parents in Jonesville and Lockhart were upset by the closing of their communities’ high schools and wanted to start their own school, apart from Union County High School.
The charter school was originally scheduled to open in 2008 but that was delayed until this year after funding for land acquisition and facility construction fell through. The district was awarded a $420,000 federal grant to cover the cost of furnishing the school once it is built. However, those funds cannot be used for anything else, such as purchasing land, building construction or school operations, including hiring teachers or other personnel.
Interest in the charter school has declined since it was first proposed. Only 40 people attended Saturday’s meeting, even though more than 400 notices had been sent to parents.
Board members are divided over whether to continue the effort or surrender the charter. One side wants to wait to see if funding can be secured; the other favors giving up the charter.
Vice chairman Mark Sanders said he still believes in the charter school concept, but cuts in state funding have deprived the school of the revenue it needs to operate. Even if the school had opened on schedule last year, the state funding cuts would have forced it to close, he added.
Public support and enrollment are crucial to a charter school’s success. Without either one, there is no reason to continue.