Local: Education

Keeping the doors open at D.C. charters

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Local,DC,Education,Crime,Rachel Baye

Whether a charter school gets to keep its doors open in the District depends on a combination of its finances and its academic performance.

Each school has a board of directors responsible for deciding how its money is managed, but the DC Public Charter School Board evaluates whether funds are managed responsibly.

Each year, charter schools are required to give the Public Charter School Board both interim and audited financial statements, as well as annual budgets. The Public Charter School Board then evaluates the schools for "fiscal solvency."

If the school lacks sufficient funds to function, or if there is any fraudulent behavior or embezzlement, that should show up in the documents the board receives, said charter board spokeswoman Audrey Williams.

Schools that are not able to prove that their finances are stable have been closed. In 2011, the School for Arts in Learning, or SAIL, Public Charter School voluntarily closed in downtown D.C. after the school ran out of funds midyear. Though the Public Charter School Board gave the school enough money to finish the year, the campus did not reopen.

That same year, two other schools closed their doors. Low enrollment at Thea Bowman Public Charter School meant that it became financially unfeasible to remain open, so the school voluntarily gave up its charter. At Nia Community Public Charter School, a slew of academic and financial failings led the Public Charter School Board to close the school's doors. - Rachel Baye

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