KVA’s charter request ends

Notification expected from state board
Feb. 26, 2014 @ 07:49 PM

Kerr-Vance Academy will not open its doors as a charter school in fall 2015.

Principal Paul Villatico said a subcommittee of the N.C. Public Charter School Advisory Council rejected KVA’s application during an initial evaluation Monday, but the school has not received official notification from the state Board of Education.

Villatico said he listened to the live audio of the subcommittee’s evaluation that was made available online Monday.

“It is my understanding that our application did not make it out of the subcommittee, and we will not be moving forward to a full panel review,” he said.

The full advisory council will review applications that were deemed adequate in March.

KVA’s board of directors submitted their application in December to the state Office of Charter Schools, along with 71 other nonprofit groups.

Villatico has said the school’s tuition can be an obstacle for some families and has contributed to decreasing enrollment.

“People, I believe, in this community really wanted us to convert,” Villatico said. “They wanted another educational opportunity that was a charter school.”

There are two charter schools operating in Vance County: Henderson Collegiate and Vance Charter.

Henderson Collegiate opened in 2010 with 100 fourth-grade students. Now, the school has fourth through seventh grades with about 100 students per grade. It will continue to add a class of students each year to create grades 4-12.

Vance Charter opened in 1999 with about 130 students. For the 2012-2013 school year, Vance Charter enrolled about 545 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Villatico said the charter schools’ long waiting lists indicate a demand for greater choice in the area.

For the 2013-2014 school year, the K-12 enrollment at KVA dropped to around 300 students.

The school’s charter application proposed increasing enrollment to 750 over 10 years.

Villatico said the subcommittee did not think the school would be able to reach its enrollment goal.

“They said we planned on getting kids from Granville, Warren and Franklin counties, and they didn’t believe we could get them,” he said. “And they also didn’t necessarily believe we could get the number of students from Vance County that we expected. They said there could be transportation issues because we weren’t in a position to offer transportation through Henderson and Vance County, but you are not required to by law.”

Unlike traditional public schools in the state, charter schools are not required to provide food or transportation. Some do.

Some of the subcommittee members seemed to want KVA to go above the letter of the law, he said.

“That was one of the difficulties we had; they were commenting on things that were above and beyond the requirements of the application as evidence for what they found to be inadequacies in the application,” he said. “Those things didn’t have to be the application. They needed to be part of the final plan when you understood what your student population was going to be and what their needs was going to be.”

Villatico said he didn’t think the subcommittee judged KVA’s application fairly.

“There are individuals judging us based on who we are as a private school and making an opinion as to what we would be as a charter school, and that’s unfortunate,” he said.

He said KVA’s image as a predominately white institution weighed too heavily as a factor in the subcommittee’s evaluation.

While KVA is not required to keep demographic information, a large portion of students enrolled are white. In Vance County, 46.8 percent of the population is white and 50.6 percent black, according to 2012 U.S. Census data.

“I think that there was belief that there would be too much carryover of what we are, or what they believed we are, into that charter school,” he said. “But the two wouldn’t match, and I readily admit that.”

Villatico said the board of directors has not yet determined whether it will reapply next year.

“At the moment, our focus is going to be on Kerr-Vance Academy as a private school,” he said. “We are focused on KVA as a private school and moving forward as a private school.”