American Classical Charter Academy, a charter school located in St. Cloud, is in jeopardy of being shut down by the School District of Osceola County after the board voted 4-1 to revoke its charter during their recent meeting.
Dr. Debra Pace shared that in a letter to the board that the school is in serious financial trouble showing that in 2021, expenditures at the end of that year were more than $600,000 in the red. More recently, the charter school lost $178,000.00 in December, and that in January that loss had risen to over $182,000.00 causing ACCA to not meet its financial obligations of funding payroll and operating expenses, and that they were behind in paying the lease with the eviction process is already underway.
“This board does have ultimate responsibility as a governing body to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used in a fiscally responsible manner,” Dr. Debra Pace shared during the meeting. ‘The deteriorating financial conditions are reaching a point of financial emergency.” The superintendent went on to say the pattern continues with pending litigation in place against the ACCA board for lack of payment of its lease in a timely manner.
According to the Superintendent there has been a notice of eviction sent to ACCA expecting them to vacate the facility, but the current landlord is allowing ACCA to be in the building through the end of the school year.
“We don’t to do a closure ever, but there is a process that is involved. The process starts tonight with recommendation and potential action from this board,” the superintendent shared.
According to Dr. Pace if the board votes to move forward with revoking the charter it will start a 90-day window for the charter board to file an appeal, which the school district had already received prior to the board meeting.
The next step would be for an administrative law judge make a decision in the next 60 days in the case. This would give ACCA a literal window of time where they could attempt to remedy the issues at hand of they are going to continue to operate in a responsible manner, according to Dr. Pace.
School board member Robert Bass from District 5 where ACCA is located said, ” I believe in what you’re doing, and I believe your children are progressing, probably faster than some of ours. I’m not aggravated with you, speaking to the parents, and I’m not aggravated with our board, I’m aggravated with the people that put you there, it’s not fair.
New legislation sponsored by State Rep. Fred Hawkins ensures that parents, students, and staff, have notification before a charter school closure occurs, so this action had to be taken before the summer break.
Board Member Clarence Thacker said, “we are responsible for teachers and staff getting paid. Running such a deficit is something charter schools are not allowed to do.”
The letter from the superintendent also states that there is a lack of training at the school and currently only 10 of the 28 instructional staff holding a valid teaching certificate, and that ACCA has had six principals in a year
The only no vote on the charter revocation was from board member John Arguello who said, “We’re going to put now 320 students back at Narcoossee so that we can have 30 portables makes no sense. This school is providing a valuable service to the community, and to the county.
The board voted 4-1 to take revoke the charter, with board member Thacker making the motion, and board member Melendez seconding the motion.
ACCA will have 90 days to rectify the issues or the school will officially close in July.