After five years of providing students with an alternative path to graduation, the Newburgh Preparatory Charter High School will close. Located on Broadway in the City of Newburgh, the charter school will shut its doors following a final graduation ceremony in June.
“On behalf of the staff and the teachers and the board, I want to say how proud we all are of what we’ve been able to do with the school and what the students have been able to accomplish,” said Newburgh Prep Board President Lisa Silverstone last Friday.
The main cause of the closure is low enrollment, Silverstone said. “The crux of it is the issues we’ve had with enrollment, retention and attendance, which have resulted in issues of long-term financial viability,” she explained. “We’re compensated per pupil. That means we are paid a fee per student, per attendance. When we have low enrollment, it’s very difficult to make the numbers work.”
The school budget is based on having 75 students enrolled during the school year, said Newburgh Prep Comptroller Cheryl Gross. “The minute we go below that, we have to review the budget to ensure we meet our fiscal responsibility,” said Gross. The current enrollment is 64 students, she said.
A total of 65 students have so far graduated from the school with New York State regents degrees. Another ten are expected to graduate in June, said Newburgh Prep Marketing Director Marlene Stang.
The school offers small classes and individualized education programs leading to graduation. “Our school charter is designed specifically for over-aged, under-credited students,” said Silverstone, and students ages 16 to 21 are accepted. “Our school is designed specifically for high school dropouts.”
Silverstone was asked whether the closure was affected by the new NFA West school, opened in 2016 to serve struggling students in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. “There may have been some students seeking an alternative school that may have gone to NFA West,” she conceded.
“We’re going to proceed with the year as normal,” Silverstone said. “We will not have a summer school. We are ensuring that all students who need summer school will be enrolled at NFA summer school. We’re working very closely now with the school district to ensure a smooth transition for every student, to ensure they have the opportunity to go into an appropriate program.”
School staff is meeting with each student and their families to give individualized attention to each transition plan, Silverstone said. “All of the opportunities will be available to the students,” she said. “We hope every, single student will take advantage of the opportunity to go to NFA,” Silverstone said, or into a GED program or an employment program. “It will be up to the individual student and their family.”
The Newburgh Prep graduation takes place at SUNY Orange Kaplan Hall on June 20.
Questions about the transition should be directed to Marlene Stang at 845-565-4040, ext. 211. Questions about options for students should be directed to Principal Wendy Wright at 565-4040, ext. 212.
By SHANTAL RILEY