Board deadlocks on new charter school

Board deadlocks on new charter school
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:55 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The state’s Professional Charter School Board deadlocked Tuesday about whether to approve the Kanawha Valley’s latest charter school proposal.

The Workforce Initiative for Nurses Academy, WIN Academy for short, would accept 30 high school seniors.

The proposed charter school would be operated by BridgeValley Community and Technical College. Those accepted would complete year one of BridgeValley’s two-year, nursing program in 12th grade.

“The WIN Academy is so innovative that it could become a national model for nursing education,” said Board Chairman Adam Kissel. “In your 12th grade year, you’d get your 12th courses done and you’d get your first year of nursing courses done. So you’re saving time and money, and you’re getting better people into the workforce sooner.”

Kissel joined Board Member Dewayne Duncan in voting Tuesday to approve WIN Academy.

Two others, Karen Bailey-Chapman and Brian Helton, abstained. Bailey-Chapman urged BridgeValley to accept 9th, 10th and 11th grade students.

“I’m not saying ‘no,’ to the concept,” she said. “I’m saying let’s go back to the drawing board and let’s come up with something that better meets the needs of creating a pipeline of education.”

Karen Bailey-Chapman said accepting younger grades would bolster math, science and other fundamentals of education -- all while making for stronger nurses.

“This can be a good program, that can actually become a really great program,” she said. “Let’s shoot for the stars and let’s make it a great program.”

BridgeValley President Casey Sacks said her team is encouraged to hear that board members want to expand the program before it even opens. However, her administration is assessing expansion with caution.

Sacks said any expansion must be balanced with the needs of BridgeValley’s industry partners, explaining that some aspects of the BridgeValley program require students to be at least 16 years old.

Sacks said her team is considering an update to its application, but that is not a guarantee.

Without a third vote for or against the proposal, Kissel said by law WIN Academy could receive state approval by default once 90 days pass since the filing of its application.

“I would rather there be three ‘yes’ votes, so that there’s an action of the board. But since I approve of the school as it is, I’m still excited that the school would be able to start and serve the students,” he said.

Kissel said the board will meet again next Wednesday. That’s when members could consider any update from BridgeValley and determine the fate of WIN Academy.

If approved, WIN Academy could open as early as next fall.