The outlook for Prestige Academy is not good in my opinion. Like I just posted in the Academy of Dover charter renewal article, one of the biggest factors going against the school is the state assessment which is extremely dangerous to any public school in Delaware. But the biggest danger this school faces is a case of Wilmingtonitis. There are just too many charter schools in Wilmington and Prestige faces serious enrollment issues.
Despite their recent modification, Prestige still faces enrollment issues. All Delaware charter schools are required to meet 80% of their enrollment by April 1st before the next academic year begins. The school was placed on formal review along with two other Delaware charter schools last year. They barely got their enrollment up by the time they were put on probation as recommended by then Secretary of Education Murphy and passed by the State Board of Education. According to the Charter School update presented to the State Board of Education in April, Prestige Academy was at 76% of their enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year as of April 19th, with 182 students enrolled based on their approved charter enrollment of 240 students, thus putting them ten students shy of meeting the mark.
The most startling part from the Delaware Department of Education charter renewal report is the following:
Should Prestige Academy Charter School not make a deposit of funds sufficient to cover the school’s end of year expenditures in May, the Department of Education may take measures to freeze the school’s spending and establish payroll reserves.
That is NOT a good place for any school to be in. It means there are very serious concerns about their financial viability. In the below response to the DOE charter renewal report, the school does not even address their enrollment and financial issues. That is not a good start to what will be a long seven months until the State Board of Education issues its final recommendation about Prestige Academy’s charter renewal on December 15th of this year. With that being said, can Wilmington take yet another charter school closing down and the instability this causes for the students who have to transition to another school? With no less than four charter schools closing down in upper New Castle County in the past three years (Pencader Business School, Moyer, Reach Academy for Girls, and Delaware Met), most of these schools serviced high populations of low-income and minority students. While they obviously didn’t get a lot of things right, it still contributed to some of the current problems we are seeing in Wilmington education.