Three new charter schools to get millions in Oklahoma funds
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 07, 2012
1/07/12 at 7:19 AM
See every school district’s allocation.
Twenty-one percent of $39.2 million in midyear state funding increases for Oklahoma school districts will go to three new charter schools, according to figures released Friday by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
The remaining increase in state aid will be distributed to the state's 522 school districts and 16 other charter schools.
The new schools are Epic One on One, which received $5.8 million; Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy, $1.9 million; and Cherokee Immersion Charter School, $465,179, records show.
Each December, school districts statewide are notified of adjustments made to their July state aid allocations because of changes in student enrollment and other factors during the first nine weeks of the school year.
Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money but are not subject to all the regulations that apply to other public schools. They are required, however, to produce specific results as outlined in their charters.
Renee McWaters, the Education Department's executive director of state aid, said the three new charter schools, particularly Epic and the Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy, have seen significant growth in the last nine weeks.
The Cherokee Immersion Charter School in Tahlequah is sponsored by the Cherokee Nation as a language-immersion school and is administered by Sequoyah Schools. The school accepts prekindergarten students to eighth-graders.
The Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy is sponsored by Choctaw-Nicoma Park Public Schools. The charter school is governed by an independent, nonprofit school board that pays K12 Inc. to manage the school and provide online curriculum.
K12 Inc., based in Herndon, Va., reported revenues of $522.4 million last year, up from the previous year's $384.5 million.
Epic One on One is a virtual school sponsored by Graham Public Schools in Weleetka. The company's student enrollment and service center is located in Oklahoma City.
The school has come under fire twice, the first time in 2010 when the school's purported sponsor, the University of Central Oklahoma, denied having a valid charter school agreement with the group.
That resulted in a legal battle, and eventually the two parties agreed to part ways.
More recently, state officials notified Epic that it appeared to be in violation of state law and outside the boundaries of its charter when it began advertising physical school sites in Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Telephone calls to David Chaney, founder of Epic, requesting comment on its midyear funding increase were not returned.
Graham Superintendent Dusty Chancey told the Tulsa World on Friday that he did not know how many students were enrolled in the virtual school and that "a lot of my access to that (information) has been taken away."
He said he assumes that Epic got the amount it did because enrollment increased since the beginning of the school year.
Chancey said his own district lost $135,253 in the midyear adjustment, a 16.2 percent decrease from its initial allocation at the beginning of the school year.
"I didn't expect that," Chancey said. "We had 100 more weighted students."
Students such as those in special education require more resources to educate, so weights are added to provide additional revenue for those purposes.
Most Tulsa County school districts got a boost in state funding for 2011-12, with percentage increases ranging from 1 percent to 8 percent.
Jenks Public Schools, however, will see a 25.6 percent increase in funding, or $3.7 million.
Officials there said they are not sure why the district got such a significant increase and are contacting the state to make sure the figure is correct.
"Jenks did grow," said McWaters, noting that both enrollment and the number of weighted students had risen.
Sand Springs Public Schools saw a slight decrease of $20,926, as did Keystone Schools, with $4,362. The Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences, a charter high school, lost $1,153.
Two other Tulsa charter schools got significant increases, with the Deborah Brown Community School seeing a 17.1 percent gain of $170,340 and the Discovery School of Tulsa getting an increase of 10.1 percent, or $357,570.
State aid to area schools
Deborah Brown (charter)||$994,720||$170,340||17.1%|
Discovery School (charter)||$3,545,208||$357,570||10.1%|
School of Arts/Sciences (charter)||$1,252,327||-$1,153||-0.1%|
By the numbers
New charter schools for fiscal year 2012, enrollment as of Oct. 3, 2011, and midyear allocations:
Cherokee Immersion Charter 112 $465,179
Epic One on One 1,721 $5.8 million
Okla. Virtual Charter Academy 781 $1.9 million
Original Print Headline: Charter schools to get large share
Kim Archer 918-581-8315