CHARLESTON — Another school will participate in the West Virginia public charter school pilot program, while another application is on hold due to members of the Professional Charter School Board seeking additional information.
The Professional Charter School Board of Directors met virtually Tuesday morning to discuss two public charter school applications for next year’s 2023-2024 school year.
The Board unanimously approved an application from the MECCA Business Learning Institute (MBLI). MECCA stands for Mentoring by Example Foundation College & Career Academies and is based in Annapolis, Maryland.
The proposed school would initially serve Berkeley County students for grades 6 and 7, with the goal of gradually expanding to grades 6-12 with a capacity of 875 students. The school will have an emphasis on teaching business and financial skills.
“I’m starting with the MECCA Business Learning Institute, which aims to educate students in the theories and practices of business with a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and finance.” said PCSB Executive Director James Paul. “MBLI intends to follow the career academy model, which seeks to make school meaningful to students by helping them think about careers and their future occupations from an early age.”
The PCSB conducts a thorough review process of charter school applications, applicant interviews, public forums, detailed analysis of applications, a deadline for applicants to address issues raised by the PCSB, and approval or rejection of the application.
“The application team and the future Board of Directors bring a lot of experience in the world of education and school leadership and school financing, I believe,” Paul said from MBLI. “It’s always a challenge to start a brand new school from scratch, especially a conventional school from scratch. That’s difficult in any industry. But I think the experienced people behind this application are well prepared to overcome these hurdles.”
“I was really excited and pleased with the people who put this together,” said board member Dewayne Duncan. “This is a school that focuses on keeping students focused and preparing them for careers and work. I’m excited. Students who are passionate about the business now have a place to go.”
However, the PCSB was divided on whether to approve the Workforce Initiatives for Nursing Academy application proposed by the BridgeValley Community and Technical College, with campuses in South Charleston and Montgomery. Two board members voted yes, two others abstained.
The WIN Academy proposal would establish a charter school for 30 high school seniors from a 10-county region on an accelerated nursing program, allowing students to complete the first year of a registered nurse associate degree program through BridgeValley. The program aims to combat the country’s nursing shortage.
While board members welcomed the goals of WIN Academy, some board members were disappointed that the school would only serve senior high school students.
“I’m still very concerned that at the moment it’s only 12th grade, possibly 11th grade,” said board member Karen Bailey-Chapman. “I think this is absolutely in the right direction with the right intent, but I’m concerned that we’re catching them a little too late and that we’re not having the opportunity to establish strong fundamentals.”
The PCSB has 90 days from receipt of an application to either approve or deny the application. If the Board does nothing, the request will automatically be approved. The deadline for the WIN Academy to process the application is Sunday, November 27th. PCSB staff will contact WIN Academy representatives for more information and will hold a meeting on Wednesday, November 23 at 8:00 am to make a final decision on the Win Academy application.
West Virginia’s first charters, Monongalia County-based West Virginia Academy and Eastern Panhandle Preparatory Academy, opened residential schools earlier this fall. The state also opened two virtual charters, the West Virginia Virtual Academy and the Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia.