Montgomery County to lose only charter school -- Gazette.Net







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Montgomery County’s only charter school will become a private school following fundraising difficulties that left the school short on private donations to complement public funds.

The Cross Community Inc. board of directors, which runs the school, voted Tuesday to terminate the charter after this academic year.

Currently in its second year, Community Montessori Charter School in Kensington teaches students between the ages of 3 and 5.

The school’s budget includes public funding from the county school system for about 40 percent of the school’s students.

The school does not receive any school system funds for its 3-year-old students and receives funds only for some of its 4-year-olds who are income eligible.

“We did a fantastic job of fundraising but we couldn’t fundraise at the level that we needed to fundraise,” said Kathleen Guinan, Crossway Community’s CEO.

Guinan said Crossway was responsible for covering about 63 percent of its expenses but the organization’s best efforts and the “generous response” from some were not enough.

“We anticipated a greater level of financial support from the (Crossway) family,” Guinan said.

County and school system officials previously raised concerns about Crossway’s ability to raise enough funds.

Guinan said at a July 22 meeting with the County Council’s Education Committee that the school has the support of “highly reliable sources” in the county to help it raise the funds it needs.

Larry Bowers — chief operating officer for Montgomery County Public Schools — said during the meeting that the school system knew when it approved the school’s application that securing the private funds would be a challenge but that the nonprofit had committed to getting the money.

Students at the charter school this year will have the option of going to Crossway’s non-charter school for the same tuition cost, Guinan said.

Crossway will also help those students and families who decide to move to a neighborhood school, she said.

Lucy Hick, whose daughter attends the charter, said the decision doesn’t come as a surprise because she and other parents have been aware the school has struggled with funding issues.

Hick said she doesn’t think the school did an adequate job to raise the funds it needed.

“I don’t think they had any plan in place,” she said.