It is a school that started out with great expectations.
“One of the purposes of the school is to develop young people who have a sense of economic independence and young folk who are being trained for the world of work and at the same time are being trained for college,” says Curtis Wells, the director of the Roxbury Charter High School for Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship. But next June, two years after it opened, the Roxbury Charter High School will close its doors, ironically because of money problems.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Education those problems include: a spiraling deficit, failure to keep adequate records, failure to meet English immersion requirements and a lack of oversight by its board of trustees. “I think the observations are fair observations of what is actually going on. But I don't think that the idea of revocation is a solution,” says Wells. And he thinks the DOE should give the school more time to fix the problems they have.
But one charter school critic says the state had to step in, in order to stop the bleeding. “I have to assume that things are so bad financially that there was no alternative,” says Richard Stutman, President of The Boston Teachers Union. He adds that Roxbury Charter High’s problems prove that what looks like a good idea on paper doesn’t always work in reality.
One teacher though disagrees and says students have benefited from the school. “My job is helping students know that they need to take responsibility for their own financial success,” says Lee Manoogian, the dean of curriculum. Manoogian says she is worried that her students will suffer when the school closes. “We've been assured by the Boston Public Schools that there will be seats for the children, isn’t that just special, seats, that furniture, what about education?”
Students at Roxbury Charter High will have the rest of the school year to learn how to manage the closing of their school. And in the process, they will have learned a real life lesson about how a business can fail.