Bowman Charter Academy to Close

Dorothy Rowley | 3/23/2011, 4:23 p.m.

Low enrollment coupled with money woes has forced the closing of another public charter school in the District.

Thea Bowman Preparatory Academy in Northeast Washington will close at the end of the current school year after the facilities' Board of Trustees decided the facility would not be able to remain financially viable over the next term, according to a recent Public Charter School Board (PCSB) statement.

Bowman was founded in 2008 and enrolled 130 students in 5th through 8th grades. Parents have been notified of the closing and will receive assistance during an upcoming community forum with placement options.

"Charter school closure is never an ideal outcome," said Brian Jones, chairman of the charter school board. "But when closure is necessary to serve the best interests of students, the PCSB will do everything possible to minimize the disruption for families."

PCSB oversees the 52 facilities that serve about 39 percent of all public school students in the city. The District government provides the schools about $9,000 for every student under their standard enrollment and $29,000 for each special education student.

In addition to five schools that closed in 2010, City Lights Public Charter which enrolled just 58 students, closed in 2009 over lack of funding. The school had also failed to meet enrollment projections.

Charter schools spokeswoman Audrey Harris said that two of the schools that closed last year had their charters revoked because they had not been meeting operating requirements. The other three voluntarily relinquished their charters, Williams said.

She added however, that none of the closings have negatively impacted the charter school movement.

"The charter school system is still healthy and vibrant," Williams said. "Enrollment has been up 6 percent over the last year and the board continues to accept new applications [for schools] each year."