New Charter School Approved by DC Public Charter School Board

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Washington, DC – By a 5-0 vote, the DC Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB) voted Monday evening, May 16 to approve the charter application of Sustainable Futures to open in the 2017-2018 school year.  Sustainable Futures received conditional approval, meaning it must satisfactorily address several conditions before it will be granted a full charter. 

During the board meeting, an application for another school was denied.  The founding group for a third school rescinded their application.

Sustainable Futures proposes to serve a portion of the 9,900 disconnected youth in the District.  They will focus on youth ages 14-21 that are not working, not in school or at-risk of dropping out of school. Sustainable Futures will offer project-based learning to engage students in their learning, along with competency-based approach to allow students to move through the curriculum at their own pace. The school will also offer social-emotional supports (e.g., mental health services) and wraparound services (e.g., on-site health clinic, transportation assistance, and three meals per day). While the key components of Sustainable Futures’ plan have been strengthened from its 2015 application, which was denied, the school will need to meet nine conditions in order to fully approve the school’s charter. The school will serve 131 students in its first year, growing to no more than 288 students by its third year of operations.

“There is such a strong need for a program like this,” said Darren Woodruff, Chair of the DC Public Charter School Board.  “An innovative model like this has a lot of potential to serve these students better than the current landscape of options available to them.”

Three public charter school applications were received by the March 2016 deadline.  DC PCSB conducted a rigorous review, including extensive interviews with the applicants, and held a public hearing on April 18.  During the review process, one group – the Adult Career Technical Educational School – rescinded its application.  Read the applicant’s withdrawal letter here.  

During the meeting, DC PCSB voted 6-0 to reject the application of Interactive Academy. While the Board felt the school had an innovative proposal for a unique school, it did not demonstrate the expertise necessary to run a successful program.  

“[This is] as an intriguing model for building student leadership and character,” said Darren Woodruff.  “However, [the Board] was unable to see a direct link between the model and the academic outcomes we could anticipate seeing.” Vice Chair Don Soifer encouraged Interactive Academy to reapply in future years, with a more experienced school leadership team and thorough plan for serving students with disabilities.

Over the next year, Sustainable Futures will locate a facility, hire staff, and build relationships with community and business members who reside and work where the school intends to locate.  DC PCSB will notify the school within 10 days of approval of the specific conditions that must be met and a timeline for addressing the conditions.  Additionally, DC PCSB staff will discuss operating and compliance requirements with the school throughout the year, in addition to collaborating with the school to ensure the conditions of charter approval are met.  

Watch video from the board meeting here.  

2016 Public Charter School Application Decisions

Applicant School Name

Proposed Grades

Educational Program

Number of Students – 1st Year

Proposed Ward

Decision

Interactive Academy

PK3 - 5

Elementary

150

7 or 8

Denied

Sustainable Futures

9-12

High School

131

8

Approved

The Adult Career Technical Educational School

Adult

Adult Education

185

8

N/A – Application Rescinded