New charter school approved in West Virginia
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia has approved its seventh charter school, the latest ran by a community college with an emphasis on nursing education for high school juniors and seniors.
The state’s Professional School Charter Board approved the Workforce Initiative for Nurses Academy during a virtual meeting Wednesday. The 4-0 vote came one week after board members deadlocked on the school’s approval.
The school will be operated by BridgeValley Community and Technical College. Its president, Casey Sacks, praised the board’s action.
“It’s unique,” she said of the school. “It’s new to West Virginia. It means that we really can get students in and fully immersed into an academic program.”
When fully operational, WIN Academy will provide 60 high school juniors and seniors a fast track to a two-year nursing degree. Thirty students will be accepted at each grade level.
The school’s promise to include 11th grade by fall 2024 garnered support Wednesday from two board members -- Karen Bailey-Chapman and Brian Helton. Both abstained last week causing the proposal to lack majority support.
Bailey-Chapman said any proposal approved by the board should be a charter school -- not a charter grade, a reference to WIN Academy’s initial focus on just high school seniors.
Afterward, Bailey-Chapman also said she appreciated increased accountability in the revised proposal, including a two-year charter as opposed to the typical five-year charter.
“I think a two-year program is really great and to be able to evaluate whether or not its successful,” she told WSAZ NewsChannel 3. “I think with anything in our lives we all have to evaluate whether something’s going well or maybe something that needs to be changed. That’s OK. That’s not failure. That’s just life.” Board Member Dewayne Duncan voted for WIN Academy at both meetings.
He encouraged fellow members Wednesday to embrace what make it different from traditional school.
“We’re not operating, like you operate a public school,” he told board members. “I just want to make sure that we put thought process in place and do things, but I don’t want us to bind the hands of these creative and innovative programs that we’re getting to the point that people will start to get, you know, I don’t want people to stop applying to become charters. I want them to see the freedom, the flexibility in them.”
Sacks said the same concept applies for parents who may consider WIN Academy.
“We just see a lot of students in West Virginia who that traditional high school experience isn’t working for,” she said. “If you think you might have a kid who would like to be more career focused or who’s already talking about a career in health care, nursing would be good for them, who talks about, ‘Gosh, I just want to go to work after high school.’ This really would set somebody up for a job that pays a lot better than most.” She estimated most graduates make $70,000 a year upon graduation.
BridgeValley hopes to have the WIN Academy’s website up and running very soon. The school is scheduled to open in Fall 2023.
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