The much-beleaguered proposed charter school will open fall 2022, one way or another.
It looks like Mon County parents will soon have another choice about where their kids go to school after all. The West Virginia Academy—the proposed charter school that got the kibosh from the Mon County Board of Education last fall—finally found legs. The Academy’s president, John Treu, announced on the school’s website earlier this week that its board has identified a site for the school, is currently accepting pre-registration applications, and plans to open to students fall 2022. It’s a surprising turnaround, but we got some answers.
But how did that happen if the school board said no?
Treu and company didn’t take no for an answer and instead took their argument to the courts, hoping for a fix to the original charter school law created by the House of Delegates in 2019. The Academy didn’t think the board of education and district superintendent should have the final say. The law, they argued, promised to create more confusion and built-in conflicts of interest if not remedied.
What was the outcome?
The Academy spent the summer in the courtroom and continued pushing for change. The House of Delegates did address the issue, and changes to the law found their way out of committee onto the governor’s desk and got his signature in March. The updated law creates a West Virginia Professional Charter School Board—a neutral third party—that will oversee future applications for new schools. It also provides for the development of more charter schools around the state than the original bill did—10 every three years up from the original three allowed.
Has the new board approved the creation of the West Virginia Academy?
The governor will appoint five members to the new board, which hasn’t happened yet. Treu says he expects the appointments to come by the end of the month. He also expects the Academy to receive favorable approval from it, paving the way for students and classrooms next fall, and for the Academy to become the state’s first charter school.
What if that doesn’t happen?
The Academy will open anyway, Treu says—just without the charter school label. “We have a backup plan of opening as a nonprofit school funded by the Hope Scholarship, which doesn’t rely on the charter model or approval process at all. So, our plans to open next fall are firm at this point,” he says. “Our path forward can no longer be inhibited by the local school boards, nor will they have any say in our process going forward.”
What should parents know about the new school?
The planned site for the Academy is a 19-acre parcel in Cheat Lake near the Falling Water development. It will be a tuition-free school and plans to open with students in grades pre-K through ninth. For more information on the Academy or to pre-register, visit here.