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Application for West Virginia's 1st charter school is rejected

Dec. 1, 2020
The Monongalia County board decided that the proposal to open West Virginia Academy was inadequate.

The Monongalia County (W.Va.) school board has rejected an application for what might have been the first charter school in West Virginia.

West Virginia MetroNews reports that the board unanimously voted against the application submitted by the West Virginia Academy.  Subsequently, the neighboring Preston County school board also voted down the academy's application.

The school has been envisioned as serving students in Monongalia, Marion and Preston counties. But the application was insufficient, says Nancy Walker, president of the Monongalia County school board.

“There still were a lot of unanswered areas in their application,” Walker says.

Some board members questioned whether the charter school proposal was truly offering a new approach and whether the school's computer equipment would be adequate.

West Virginia’s legislature approved a law last year that allows the establishment of charter schools in the state.

The legislation allows for three charter schools to be opened in the state. It requires local approval within 90 days of an application.

The Cardinal Institute, a West Virginia think tank that supports charter schools, described the Monongalia County vote as unfortunate.

“I think this points to a fatal flaw in the law itself by giving a competitor’s veto to the county school board with very few options for recourse," says Garrett Ballengee, director of the institute.

The Monongalia County Education Association had opposed the charter school application. It expressed concern that a new charter school would have spread local resources thinner while not actually providing a substantially different education offering.

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