POWELL, Ohio (WCMH) – With just a little more than a month left of summer vacation, some students in Powell are still uncertain where they’ll be attending class in the upcoming school year.
Village Academy families were processing an announcement Tuesday that the private pre-K – 12th-grade plans to close permanently by the end of the week.
“We were hoping for at least one more year of Village Academy being open, but unfortunately with the communication that came across yesterday, that is not going to happen,” said Vinnie Spirko.
Spirko’s sons were planning to attend fifth and seventh grade at Village Academy in the upcoming school year. He said the family looked forward to completing their entire education with the school.
“In a large suburban community, that small-town feel was nice to have,” Spirko said. “The teachers here were excellent, they were professional. They looked for each other as teachers and for the students.”
In an email Monday afternoon, the board of trustees told families, “Over the past years, the School has worked to increase enrollment, minimize expenses and bolster giving by our supporters in the community. Yet our overall enrollment and giving have not reached the level needed for us to continue to operate.”
Both Spirko and Chip Vance, the father of an incoming seventh-grader, said they were aware the school was in financial trouble, but only recently learned how dire the situation had become.
“They’ve always operated at an 80 percent income of what it costs to run the school and then hoped that people give the remaining 20 percent for a tax deduction,” Vance said. “It’s just bad business.”
The parents told NBC4 the school announced several weeks ago it was eliminating the lunch program and cutting teacher salaries to save costs.
Vance said families offered to cover some expenses when they found out the board reduced faculty pay by up to 25 percent and changed twelve-month contracts to nine months.
“We had a show of hands and a commitment of $30,000 on the spot to be earmarked for teacher salaries,” he said of an informational meeting last week between parents and school administrators.
The group of parents agreed to meet again Tuesday to discuss next steps in fundraising or alternative plans but canceled the meeting when the school announced its closure.
“The real loss here is for the kids. I feel really terrible for my daughter. She was going to be in seventh grade,” Vance said. “But for the juniors and seniors that have had their entire existence, their whole identity [has been] destroyed in very short order by the administration and the board of trustees…”
The parents were told their children’s records and transcripts would be available through Olentangy Local Schools. Some said they had already submitted up to $25,000 in tuition for the upcoming school year and had not yet heard from the school about reimbursement.
NBC4 reached out to both the administration and the board of trustees at Village Academy Schools Tuesday, but received no response.