Principal reacts to local charter school’s unexpected closure

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Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 8:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A local charter school is set to close its doors for good on June 30 and both parents and students say the news of the closure is a shock.

Many parents of former students from Midlands Arts Conservatory are scrambling to find new schools for their children to attend this upcoming school year and many staff members are struggling to find new jobs calling the school’s closure unexpected and a shock.

“That was everything she loved in one place. I think she’ll be heartbroken,” said parent Douglas Lovely.

Douglas Lovely’s daughter attended Midlands Arts Conservatory Charter School. He says he’s still struggling to break the news to her that MAC will be closing its doors.

“We were filled with different emotions. It was shocked, awed, but mostly anger because there was no communication,” said Lovely.

The decision to close the school came from board members after an emergency board meeting on June 8. They cited issues with funding for the upcoming school year.

“If we would’ve known ahead of time things could’ve been different maybe. If there was communication, I think that would’ve been key to everything,” said Lovely

" I just felt like we had parents that were willing to fight for the school as well,” said Dr. Bates.

Dr. Pasquail Bates is the principal of Midlands Arts Conservatory. She says that while the board members cited funding as one of the reasons for the school’s closure, it was still unclear what potential funding the school would have for the upcoming school year.

“Grants that my staff had applied for, we had not heard back from them yet. So, we don’t know if we actually got some of those grants or not yet. The state budget had not been released until last Friday. So, we did not even know what the state budget was going to be at that point,” Dr. Bates said. “So, I’ll just leave that, at that,” she added.

Another issue board members cited was not securing a new facility for the upcoming school year.

Dr. Bates says, “The building we were planning on moving into on Bush River Road, another entity had came in and made a higher bid on that. After that we were looking to move into other locations and to the point of the emergency board meeting, one of our board members was still working on trying to find another location.”

Dr. Bates says the current building they were in was dilapidated and couldn’t keep up with the growing student enrollment. Despite the reason cited by board members for the closure, Dr. Bates says options to keep the school open were not exhausted.

“I do not feel that occurred. I feel that we could’ve fought harder, and I think the parents and faculty feel that way as well,” said Dr. Bates.

Dr. Bates says she’s working with former teachers at the school to help them find new jobs. Some of them even attended Richland School District One’s job fair this week, but she says it’ll be tough as most schools are now fully staffed.

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