School Board to decide fate of RCA Academy

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BELOIT - The School District of Beloit Board of Education will decide whether or not to keep Roy Chapman Andrews Academy open at its Tuesday special board meeting set for 5 p.m. at Kolak Education Center.

Roy Chapman Andrews Academy (RCAA) is a project-based learning charter school housed within Beloit Memorial High School for sixth through 12th graders. Students complete their education through in-depth projects designed around their own interests. It opened in 2007-2008.

In an interview Monday, Interim Superintendent Tony Bosco said the program had just over 30 students. He said it costs about $400,000 to run annually.

With the deadline to renew RCAA's contract this month, he said the board will vote whether to renew its contract at the Tuesday meeting.

"We've already discussed it in committee and are trying to make a decision this week," Bosco said.

When pressed for his opinion on whether the RCAA contract should be extended, Bosco said he is in favor of shutting it down or significantly changing it due to low enrollment, budget considerations and the difficulty the district's had keeping it staffed.

Bosco said those with the district would like a year to find a different approach to charter school offerings in the district.

"We'd like to explore charter schools on a larger scale within the district," he said. "We are going to have a committee explore charter schools over the next year with the idea we'd have a different approach for charter schools."

Bosco said those with the district will be studying what other charter configurations there are in other school districts with similar demographics to Beloit.

Bosco noted if the board does not approve extending RCAA's contract there will be a transition plan for the students. There are also options such as virtual school, Beloit Learning Academy and other programs at Beloit Memorial High School.

Administration also recommended closure in May of 2017. However, after pleas from staff and students to keep it open, the board rejected the administration's recommendation. Advocates said it had been a safe haven for pupils who didn't thrive in the traditional school environment.

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