SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– On the same day the Rural Community Academy school board voted to close at the end of this school year, Ashley Trotter began doing research on what it takes to start a charter school in the state.
“I started looking up new charters. I started looking on the internet who could authorize our charter, how would that process look, who could we reach out to to see if they could help us,” she said.
Less than a month after the announcement RCA would close, Trotter gathered with others on Monday to hold the first public meeting on a potential new charter school in the area, named the Sullivan County School of Choice.
Monday’s meeting gave members of the public a chance to ask questions about the prospective new charter school. Makala Shew, a teacher at RCA who also currently has her child enrolled in the school, said it helped ease some of the anxiety from the past few months.
“I think it’s definitely a process. As staff here and as a parent, it’s just something that we’re still unclear about,” Shew said. “I do think a lot of questions got answered tonight, but until we know for sure if this charter gets passed, we’re still going to have that uncertainty.”
Many of the questions centered around what would be done to increase enrollment. Declining enrollment and subsequent financial concerns were cited as the cause for RCA’s eventual closure.
Trotter hopes to keep some things in place from the previous charter– mainly, to stay in the same building and to hire some of the same staff members. Some suggestions for changes included having a preschool operate in the same building, and changing transportation routes to accommodate more students.
Shew said she thought transportation was the key reason for declining enrollment.
“We have so many kids leave because they were very little with their bus stops,” she said. “I understand parents that are at home, they need to get to work, and they can’t drive all this time, or they can’t put their kid on the bus. I really want that to be the main concern that we focus on because I think that will help with our enrollment.”
Trotter said the main focus for them was garnering community support– as enrollment is the key to them sustaining financially.
“It depends on enrollment. And we want to get enrollment up. We want enrollment to be a huge priority, and to really push for getting to the numbers that will make us flourish,” she said.
The school still has many questions to answer– and has yet to receive official word on if they can go forward. Trotter said they are planning to submit their official application to the Indiana Charter School Board this week, and if they get approved, they will hold more community meetings to help shape exactly what the school will look like.