PEORIA — As Quest Charter Academy begins the re-application process to extend its five-year contract with Peoria School District 150, the charter school board is grappling with declining enrollments in its upper grade levels.
Total enrollment is 499, Principal Ali Kuran reported at Tuesday’s board meeting. The school’s budget and reimbursements from District 150 are based on an enrollment of 525. Seven more students may enroll soon, Kuran said.
“So we’ll be 20 students short, that’s $160,000,” said board Chairman Glen Barton, estimating the amount of state funding that could be lost as a result. District 150 passes on a portion of its state funding to the charter school, based on enrollment.
The enrollment figures sparked a discussion among the charter school board members about the reasons students leave as they reach the high school level and how it can be remedied.
Quest’s enrollment goal is 75 students a class in grades fifth through 11th. The 10th-grade class currently has 60 students and the 11th-grade class has 45. Opened in 2010, plans evolved to add a grade each year until Quest had 650 students, from fifth to 12th grades, spread over two buildings.
Though the school has a waiting list of students who would like to attend, it does not accept students in the 10th and 11th grades, where the shortages are. When board member Tom Fliege suggested revisiting that rule and possibly admitting more students in the upper grades, others reminded him that students can only be admitted through a lottery.
“If we’re going to be creative, we have to be creative in a way that doesn’t mess with the culture of the school,” warned board member Kristie Hubbard, adding that students who may want to transfer to Quest in high school already may have been struggling in other high schools.
The enrollment drop also means the board’s finance committee must revise the five-year projections included in the application renewal to District 150. Academic achievement, the additional cost of maintaining two schools and technological upgrades also will be key features in the final application to extend the school’s charter for another five years.
Board members also discussed the new agreement with Illinois Central Bus Co., which includes using school property for bus parking and providing office space within the school. The board previously approved a contract with Illinois Central for nine buses at $285 a day per bus, a jump from the $250 a day the board had budgeted for transportation — and a much bigger jump than the $150 a day Quest paid Illinois Central last year.
Another school bus has been donated to the school by an anonymous benefactor, Barton announced.Read more: http://www.pjstar.com/article/20140826/News/140829276#ixzz3D5MRI7Fo