Our charter application that was filed with the Boards of Education for Monongalia and Preston Counties in July has now been statutorily approved due to inaction by these collective boards as our authorizer under the WV charter law. West Virginia law requires that an authorizer either reject or deny any charter application "[n]o later than 90 days following the filing of the charter application" (see W.Va. Code Sec. 18-5G-6(d)). The statute further states that "[a]ny failure to act on a charter application" within the ninety day period "shall be deemed an approval by the authorizer." This ninety day review period expired before the end of October for our application without any approval or denial by these combined boards of education. Other critical deadlines within the ninety day review period established by regulation have also been missed, which further supports a default approval. At this point, the boards are required by law to submit our accepted application to the West Virginia Department of Education for consideration and approval (see Policy 3300, Section 5.6.g.4). We have submitted a demand letter to the boards requesting that they comply with the law and conduct a meeting to officially submit our approved application to the WVDE. If the boards refuse to comply with their obligations under the law then we intend to seek legal action to compel such compliance.
Once our application is submitted to the WVDE, it will take one of two tracks depending on whether or not there are more than three conditionally approved applications submitted statewide. If three or fewer approved applications are submitted to the WVDE then our application along with any others submitted by the end of November will be approved immediately on December 1, 2020. If more than three charter applications are submitted then the state has two weeks to analyze and rank the applications based on criteria in the regulations and the top three applications will be approved by December 15, 2020. Given the potential for being ranked outside the top 3 by the WVDE, our approval is far from a done deal at this point, but we are aware of no other official applications that are being considered and so our application appears to be on very strong footing for approval once it has been submitted to the state.
After receiving approval from the state, the combined school boards for Monongalia and Preston Counties will finalize the actual charter agreement with our organization and then applications will open for enrollment at our school. The Monongalia and Preston County school districts are required to notify all students of the charter school option once applications open. We anticipate that applications will be available starting in February running through March and then final enrollment for the Fall of 2021 will be set in April. Based on projections for financial viability, we would need approximately 400 students in order to open the charter school. At that juncture, the decision of whether West Virginia Academy becomes a reality will be in the hands of parents in our community, as it should be. Survey data suggests that there will be more than adequate demand to reach the minimum enrollment numbers and that the school will likely open if the charter is approved.