Bright Ideas Charter School Faces Charter Revocation - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Bright Ideas Charter School Faces Charter Revocation

 A Wichita Falls charter school may soon be facing closure. The Texas Education Agency is revoking Bright Ideas charter on the basis of failing financial accountability ratings.

But the school said they are not giving up the fight. School officials and Parents are confident this won't mean the end for Bright Ideas.

Right now they are working to do everything they can to keep their school doors open, and continue their academic success. 

Bright Ideas is home to 120 students, students that after this summer may not be able to call school anymore.

“We would never go anywhere else this has definitely accommodated them and they've really thrived in this school environment,” said Amber Morriss, a parent at Bright Ideas.

Morriss has four students enrolled at Bright Ideas Charter School. She said unlike public school, Bright Ideas, has not only enhanced her children's education but also given them specialized treatment.

She said she remains optimistic the school will remain open.

“Really, I wasn't too concerned about it. It wasn't for academics, there's nothing wrong with the academics here at bright ideas. It was for some financial issues,” said Morriss.

Those financial issues have been looming over the school for numerous years.

“Every year the state issues what they call the State Accountability Ratings, or School FIRST,” said TEA Spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson. “It rates every school district and charter school on financial transparency, financial health, and whether or not the school or district is meeting all of the state laws.”

Something that Bright Ideas have not been able to meet for three years.

“When the district or charter school fails their financial ratings for three years, that's a sign of serious problems,” said TEA Spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson.

Problems like too much debt, and not enough assets hold the school back each year from earning a passing standard. School officials said the failure in their financial department comes from a lack of funding.

“We get paid once a month just like regular people,” said Lynda Plummer, Director of Bright Ideas Charter School. “We don't have money to just put into certificate of deposits or treasury bills. Unless we take it away from the students and we just couldn't do that.”

She also said some of the state standards are not aimed at accommodating charter schools, and some indicators have a small passing rate from other charter schools in the state.

“We've been fighting this indicator, not just us, but all the charters have been fighting this for the past five years,” said Plummer. “119 of the 202 state charters have failed indicator 19. Of those were 20 that failed accountability because of the indicator 19, and we were one of those.”

She said she plans to fight the revocation saying the state financial accountability standards shouldn't hold a school back, that she said, is very academically sound.

“We need financial accountability, but this is like a train wreck,” said Plummer. “ Between Senate Bill 2, which says three strikes and your out, and a financial system that is broken.”

Each year that Bright Ideas failed to meet state financial accountability it was for a number of similar indicators.

 Indicators are categories that schools are evaluated on each year. In order to pass accountability you have to pass five indicators, and receive a score of at least 50.

 In 2011 the school turned their financial audit in a day late, causing them to fail that year, overall. In both 2012 and 2013 the school failed to receive a score of at least 50.

 “Well, they've had three years to work on improving their finances, and there's also an appeals process when those financial ratings are issued,” said Culbertson.

School officials said they have gone through that appeals process, and even in one case, won. But they still received failing ratings.

Bright Ideas is working on alternative strategies right now. They said they are working now to join onto another state charter that will allow them to keep the school open.

Officials said the school will remain open and funded through June 30th. And depending on those options, and steps the school takes, those doors may not actually have to close for good.



Brittany Costello, Newschannel 6

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