Austin, Texas – August 8, 2011 – The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) represents more than 100,000 students in 390 charter schools across Texas. Since the Association opened its doors in 2008, we’ve helped member schools achieve strong academic results and worked to ensure their schools are operationally effective. The academic success of charter schools is steadily improving, and according to the Texas Comptroller’s recent FAST report – a quarter of the state’s most financially efficient schools are charter schools. In fact the vast majority of charter schools are “making the grade” on student report cards and on school balance sheets. Effective public schools, charter or traditional, must be both academically and financially sound.
On Friday Commissioner of Education Robert Scott revoked the charter of Outreach Word Academy (“Outreach”) in Victoria because of financial troubles the school has continuously encountered. We agree with Scott’s decision. Even though Outreach recently earned solid academic ratings, evidencing good teaching and learning, the school’s two most recent financial ratings were Substandard. The school’s financial debts to the state and federal governments totaling almost $1 million seem insurmountable. Moreover, its problems with completing timely audits, general accounting, and grant management signal systematic financial weaknesses that are not the hallmarks of quality public education. It’s a shame that this school’s academic record is overshadowed by its significant financial struggles.
With the start of the school year just weeks away, TCSA regrets the need for parents to find new academic homes for their children and the employment uncertainty that confronts the school’s teachers and other staff. Yet, we agree with the Commissioner’s decision to end the school’s tenure now. As a public school, Outreach Word must be academically and financially accountable to the citizens of Texas. Without both sound financial and academic operations, the school is not positioned to serve Texas well.