SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Rural Community Schools Inc. notified staff and families Wednesday that after 20 years they were withdrawing their charter renewal application from Ball State University and would close at the end of the school year.
According to a letter sent to parents of students currently attending the Rural Community Academy in Sullivan County, the decision to close was made during a RCSI Board of Directors meeting Tuesday night.
“This year we saw an unprecedented drop in enrollment when the year began,” the release stated. “Because our funding is tied to enrollment that means that we have less funding coming to RCA.”
President of the RCA school board, Susie Pierce, said the decision was not easy, but they always strive to do what is best for the students.
“It was really, really hard and people did hesitate on their votes because they’re thinking ‘no’ but in actuality we know that’s what we have to do,” Pierce said.
The board said they have the money to finish the 2022-2023 school year, but due to the drop in funding, they cannot guarantee there would be enough money to get through another school year.
“We’re fine this year, but looking at next year, there could potentially be problems and we sure don’t want to close in the middle of the school year at Christmastime,” Peirce added.
According to Derek Grant, the school’s leader and Chief Operating Officer, “The academic framework was not a worry. But the financial framework was and as we’ve looked at the numbers, it just becomes more and more evident that we can’t guarantee another year. And because we can’t guarantee that year, we don’t want to ask staff or families to gamble that we can stay open.”
As a result, the board determined they would vote not to seek a renewal from Ball State University for another school year.
When the school was created in 2003, it opened as Indiana’s first rural charter school. Over the last 20 years, the school has served as a model for the establishment of three other rural charter schools.
With approximately three months remaining this school year Grant said, “We are going to try to do the absolute best for our students as we have tried to do all year and finish strong. We’re not keeping secrets from the kids but we’re going to them know and enjoy every single day and teach the best that we can and allow our students to grow as much as they can grow. And go out with a bang as much as we can. And celebrate the legacy of RCA.”
Read the full letter sent home with students below;