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Too Small to Survive? Charter School May Close

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BALTIMORE (WBFF)-- The Baltimore City School Board is set to close five underperforming schools this year as Districtwide enrollment continues to shrink. Project Baltimore has learned a sixth school may not be far behind, but for a different reason.

Midtown Academy is a successful school with good test scores. But if something doesn’t change soon, it may be forced to close.

Founded in 1997, Midtown Academy is the city's oldest public charter school and one of its most successful. With 198 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, Midtown is also one of the city's smallest schools. It keeps only nine teachers with 22 students per class.

Jennifer Devon, Executive Director of Midtown Academy, says there’s a waiting list of more than 350 students who want to attend the school.

"In a small school I know everything about everybody,” Devon says. “It's a small school atmosphere, and it makes us a family."

In a School District where just a quarter (26 percent) of teachers have 10 years of experience, Midtown consists of more than half (56 percent). State testing reflects that. Midtown scores well above the District average.

Midtown District

Grades 3-5 M:23/E:24 M:14/E:13

Grades 6-8 M:14/E:27 M:8/E:15

But not all here is looking up.

"We are in trouble financially. It's hard to be a small school in the city school system," says Devon.

Midtown is caught in the financial strain of a changing educational landscape, where funding formulas tend to benefit a larger student enrollment. In its fight to stay open, Midtown is now seeking donors while it looks for more space to cut into that large waiting list. But in this neighborhood, that space is hard to find.

"If we can't expand and we can't find another building, I'm not sure Midtown will stay here for another 20 years," says Devon. "Baltimore City can't lose Midtown.”

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