Bonita charter school closing
More than 70 students will have to find another school
FORT MYERS - The Richard Milburn Academy in Bonita Springs
will close for good on Oct. 5, after the school's governing body asked the school board to grant its request to close the Academy due to "financial distress."
Before the board's reluctant 3-2 vote, parents spoke up hoping to keep the public charter school open despite being on the chopping block.
Calling each other a family, students addressed the board hoping to save their school.
“They make school and learning comfortable for us," said one student. "And they teach in a way we understand.”
“Closing the school will not only leave children behind," a parent said, "but will leave the community behind.”
The tuition free public charter high school opened last year. It catered to students who were not successful in traditional high school settings.
But the school quickly faced financial problems.
This year 78 students were enrolled - half of what was expected - and the academy says they needed a quarter of a million dollars a year to stay open.
“You're not just closing down a school," one student said, "you're closing a door for us to succeed in life.”
On Sept. 11, the academy's governing board sent the superintendent a letter saying they wanted to close the school due to "financial distress." They asked the district to waive their obligated 120 day time frame to notify the district and 30 days to notify students.
“We are saddened that we will no longer have the opportunity to provide schooling," the letter said. "We are hopeful that the students' experiences with us will give them the confidence and knowledge needed to make a smooth transition to another Lee County school.”
But many students say they don't want to transfer.
The board blasted the academy's governing body, accusing them of abandoning Milburn’s 78 students.
In the end, the board voted 3-2, allowing the academy to shut down - a decision they weren't happy about.
Board members say they'll do everything they can to find those students other options.
The school will close for good on Oct. 5