The ISUS Institute of Construction Technology and the Virtual Community School of Ohio are both charter schools.
Both enroll mostly low-income students and received passing grades from the state last year.
And both now face closure for financial and management — not academic — reasons.
ISUS is a Dayton dropout recovery school. It enrolls students who have dropped out of traditional public schools. The school focuses on teaching students construction and trade skills by building houses in the Dayton area.
ISUS is now “suspending operations” for the coming school year because it’s $2 million in debt, the Dayton Daily news reports. School officials told the Daily News three factors got the school into this position:
- Falling enrollment led to less state funding;
- The recession made it harder to make money by selling the houses students built; and
- Growing debt made it harder to win new grant funding.
Ohio Department of Education records also show that last year the school had a staff of 33 serving 51 officially enrolled students and received about $2 million in public funding.
Virtual Community School
The Virtual Community School of Ohio is the smallest of Ohio’s seven statewide online charter schools. It enrolled about 1,300 students last year and received about $11 million in public funding. Its sponsor, the Reynoldsburg school district, voted to suspend the school’s operations due to “suspected nepotism and poor financial outlook,” the Columbus Dispatch reports:
… The charter school is looking at a projected deficit of about $800,000 by the end of next school year and has failed to pay its bills on time. Starting in 2009, the school also hired relatives of Superintendent James McCord — his wife, Judy McCord; brother, Ed McCord; and son, Gavin McCord, according to the school’s most recent state audit, released in January.
Virtual Community School says it didn’t break the law “because McCord merely signed off on the hires but did not recommend the relatives for employment,” the Dispatch says.
Ohio has had 124 charter schools open and then close. More than half of those closures were at least in part because schools couldn’t pay their bills. (Official it’s called “financial viability.”) And more than half of the closures were “voluntary,” rather than formally ordered or required under state law.