The Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School in Pennsylvania has closed two of its learning centers after claiming difficulties due to a state budget impasse. Some of the school’s staff were laid off, and students were encouraged to watch classes from home or choose to relocate to different learning centers.
Education Plus closed its Brandywine Achievement Center in Exton and the Bridgeville Partner Tutoring Center in Allegheny County because of the state’s budget deadlock, Philly.com reports. The organization laid off 30 of its staff after the organization was not able to receive credit from its bank. The two-center closing affected 410 students in kindergarten through the 8th grade, with more than half the students from Philadelphia.
According to Pennlive, parents were informed about the center closing through a letter, with the founding CEO, Nicholas Torres, blaming the budget stalemate for the unfortunate conclusion. Lydia E. Jerchau, the head of school, said that the school is working closely with students and their families to make arrangements for them to be accommodated in one of the remaining six learning centers.
A sixth-grade student’s mother, Jo-Ann Rogan, says that her child was doing well at Ed Plus as opposed to traditional public schools:
“The teachers there have been with us for three years, and they’ve watched him blossom,” Rogan said. “When I picked Ryan up, we were all hugging and crying,” Martha Woodall reports on the story for The Inquirer.
For several other students, the news were disappointing because they need to return to their public schools or find online alternatives to Ed Plus, Philly.com reports. Torres said that if the school is to receive financing anew, it is highly likely to re-hire its online instructors and start offering its educational services again.
The students enrolled at Education Plus can still make use of their online material and learning resources that are all available through the Ed Plus-provided Chromebooks. However, teacher consultation is no longer available to students.
As Philly.com relays, laid off staff was notified that the school will not pay them for their last three weeks’ work.
Recently, Ed Plus has been in the spotlight because it operated more like a traditional school rather than a cyber model. In the summer of 2015, Education Plus closed some of its learning centers and laid off instructors and other staff. Pennlive.com says that according to a Department of Education spokesperson, there have been several long-term and short-term issues discussed between Education Plus and the state Department of Education.
Since July 1st, schools have not had a state budget and have borrowed money or cut expenses to continue operating. Students at Fell Charter Elementary had to reduce their learning days from five to four while teachers were working without remuneration, Martha Woodall writes for The Inquirer.
The cyber school is one of 13 cyber schools currently in operation in Pennsylvania. Education Plus was founded in 2012 with a focus on special learning needs students serving 56 school districts across the state.