Charter school delays opening in Victoria
April 5, 2012 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated April 7, 2012 at 11:08 p.m.
OUTREACH ACADEMY BUILDING
During its 10 years of operation, Outreach Word Academy leased a building from the Victoria Regional Airport.
The IRS now leases the building, while it works to sell some of the equipment and property owned by Outreach, Airport Manager Jason Milewski said.
The judge who ordered the closing of the charter school found Outreach owed more than $200,000 in unpaid payroll taxes, interest and penalties.
The IRS has occupied the building for several months, but Milewski said he hopes the agency will be out of the building soon, so it can become available to lease again.
A representative from the IRS did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Parents interested in sending their children to a charter school in Victoria will have to wait another year.
Vista Academy of Victoria was slated to open in August, but the charter company has been unable to secure a location for the school, prompting them to delay opening until 2013.
"We feel like if we were to find a building now, we might not be able to have it prepared by the start of school," said Alan Wimberley, the company's chief learning officer, "We do not want to start haphazardly ... we want it to be as successful as possible."
Since January, Vista Academy's director Keith Garcia has been scouting locations for the kindergarten through fifth-grade charter school. Most importantly, Wimberley said, the charter school would need to be centrally-located, as the school does not plan to run a bus route.
The building would also have to have adequate space for classrooms and meet the company's real estate leasing guidelines. Wimberley said the company has found a few potential sites, but the owners have indicated they wouldn't be able to make the building school-ready by August.
Responsive Education Solutions, the largest charter school system in Texas, first came to Victoria in August 2011 after a state judge closed down the city's only charter school, Outreach Word Academy, due to financial mismanagement.
During his visit to Victoria, Wimberley told eager parents his team would explore the possibility of opening a school in 2011 or even the winter 2012.
"Everything just has not lined up that needs to line up. When it does, we'll definitely be opening there," he said.
Outreach Academy had 310 students at its closing. Vista Academy schools, which often operate from churches or retail spaces, usually open with a capacity of 240 students. So far, about 75 families have expressed interest in attending the Vista Academy school, Wimberley said.
The company sent letters to parents this week, notifying them of the year-long delay.
"On a personal note, it's disappointing for me because I just feel a sense of obligation to make sure we have that there," Wimberley said. "But looking at it . this is the best decision."
Responsive Education Solutions plans to open 14 charter schools in other towns this year, Wimberley said.