At last week’s Escambia County School Board meeting, Linda Moultrie, board member for District 3, made motions for A. A. Dixon Charter School to remain open.
According to an agreement between the charter school and the school district that was drafted late last year, if A. A. Dixon did not improve its’ school grade of an “F”, the school would close.
But school grades have not been released as of yet and many advocates for the school feel that even if the school’s grade does not improve, many students have made academic improvements.
“I offered an amendment to that contract to allow them to stay open regardless of the school’s grade,” Moultrie said. “However, the Florida Department of Education has mandated that the school must meet certain standards and it’s out of the hand of the local school board if they receive an “F” grade.”
According to Florida Statues,
Section 1002.33: Charter schools must meet high standards of student achievement while providing parents flexibility to choose among diverse educational opportunities within the state’s public school system.
Kelisha Evans, executive assistant at A. A. Dixon and a parent of a former student, says a large percentage of the school woes are a result from the School Board’s erratic funding.
“Our first year we had issues as far as the finances, but the district held up our funds,” Evans said. “There were Title I funds that we were supposed to receive last year that we never received. If the District provided help, we would not be in the predicament we are in today.”
Evans said due to poor funding, the school had to accommodate many of their own needs –like bussing and transportation – to help its students.
Evans said that though the school has not received all of the funding promised to them, they ended this past academic year with a small financial surplus.
Linda Moultrie said the School Board does not give certain schools preferential treatment regarding funding and believes there must be a system flaw as to why A. A. Dixon was looked over.
“The School Board releases funds based on documentation,” Moultrie said. “Now, whether or not there’s a glitch in getting funds to the school in a timely manner, I don’t know. But I know we can’t release funds until our financial office provides us with the proper documentation.”
Though those at A. A. Dixon would like to receive funds that were promised to them in the past, they seem more concentrated on staying open to help their students.
“All of those issues that we’ve had in the past are gone,” Evans said. “We just need help. We need support. We need to get the same benefits that the regular public schools get.”
“We want to see these children succeed,” Moultrie said. “I’d like to see A. A. Dixon stay on the track it’s currently on and continue. I know those kids can make the grade.”