Most Ohio charter schools are in urban area. So Sciotoville Community School and Sciotoville Elementary Academy, two charter schools that opened up in Appalachian Scioto County, are unusual.
State law says that new charter schools can only be located in one of the “Big Eight” urban districts or in D- or F-rated districts. But at the time the Sciotoville charters opened, the school district for the area received the state’s lowest rating.
Of the 314 brick-and-mortar charter schools charter schools last year, about nine were rural (depending on how one defines rural), according to the Fordham Institute think tank.
The Fordham Foundation, which is associated with the Fordham Institute, has sponsored Sciotoville Community School and Sciotoville Elementary Academy since July 2011. They produced a short video telling the story of the schools’ creation and the challenges they face today (like an elementary school located entirely in trailers).
Skip to the 12-minute mark to hear Sciotoville Elementary Academy Principal Foresta Shope talk about the school’s mission:
“We love and care for every kid that’s here. They’re part of our family. … We want the kids to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.”
The Tartans: The Story of the Sciotoville Community Schools
Here’s how these two charter schools ended up in rural Ohio, according to Fordham:
Sciotoville Community School became a charter in September 2001 when the district decided to close East High School. The master plan called for busing Sciotoville students to other buildings in Portsmouth, some of them more than an hour away. Rather than watch their school close and their kids be shuttled off to distant neighborhoods, however, community leaders rallied around the school and decided to secede from the Portsmouth City School District and turn it into a charter.
Sciotoville Community School serves grades 5-12. It received a C on its most recent state report card. Sciotoville Elementary Academy is a K-4 school and also received a C on its most recent state report card.