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As Fort Worth nonprofit closes its charter school, the property’s future remains undecided

As Fort Worth nonprofit Lena Pope is in the strategy of closing its public charter college, Chapel Hill Academy, the future of the college’s property on Sycamore School Road continues to be being decided whereas former and potential households are reflecting on the information.

Lena Pope officers introduced final week that the campus can be closed at the finish of August attributable to a mix of competing charter faculties opening in the space and pupil enrollment declining lately. The college serves college students in pre-kindergarten via eighth grade and opened in 2008. As college leaders are at present targeted on the closure course of overseen by the Texas Education Agency, it remains to be mentioned whether or not the college facility might be used for different providers offered by Lena Pope, or if it is going to be offered or rented, in line with CEO Ashley Elgin.

“We have a lot of work to do in order to prepare the school for a close-down, and that’s our primary focus. We haven’t really begun the next phase,” she mentioned.

Chapel Hill Academy had an enrollment of 535 college students as of October 2023, in line with TEA records. Enrollment peaked at 763 college students in October 2020, the similar college 12 months when eighth-grade courses have been first added.

Elgin famous that whereas enrollment declined at Chapel Hill Academy, the want for different youngster and household services offered by Lena Pope has grown. The nonprofit gives counseling and substance use providers and behavioral well-being packages targeted on areas equivalent to juvenile justice and youth resilience. The group additionally gives early childhood schooling via two youngster care facilities which are nationally accredited and have the highest state rankings, 4 stars, via the Texas Rising Star high quality and enchancment program.

“At the same time that we saw the decline in enrollment, our child care centers have a three-year waiting list and our counseling services also have a waiting list, and our juvenile justice services continue to be in peak demand. We feel that to fulfill our mission, we’re needed elsewhere, and so we’re turning our attention to meet those needs,” Elgin mentioned.

Fort Worth resident Jeffrey Williams and his household have sturdy ties to Lena Pope. Although they have been dissatisfied to listen to about the college closure, they have been relieved to listen to its different providers would proceed. Williams met his spouse, Gloria, in 2016 via a category offered by one among Lena Pope’s providers, and so they acquired married at the group’s Marty Leonard Community Chapel. The Williamses had deliberate to enroll their son Mateo in pre-Ok at Chapel Hill Academy in the fall however will now ship him to Daggett Elementary School in Fort Worth ISD, he mentioned.

“It was pretty disappointing having to pivot. Obviously Mateo starting pre-K is a big deal, and we were really excited about him becoming part of the Lena Pope family. We have no ill feelings though and are still excited about Mateo starting school,” Williams mentioned.

Rachel Olivarez, a former Chapel Hill Academy dad or mum and worker, mentioned she was additionally saddened by the closure announcement, as her two sons attended the college throughout their elementary years and she or he had labored there for greater than a decade in roles such as an alternative instructor and an administrative assistant.

“I still have many lifelong friends who work there and I know this will be a difficult transition for many of them. I know they care so much for the community they serve, and it’s sad to know that it won’t be an option for families in the future,” Olivarez mentioned.

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