UPDATE: Expanding Md. Charter School Is Running Out of Space and Time
Two years after it opened, the fledgling charter school KIPP Harbor Academy is desperately looking for a place to hold classes next year. KIPP officials lobbied the Anne Arundel County school board in the past week to let them move into unused space at Annapolis Middle School, but board members expressed strong reluctance.
KIPP, a nationwide system that stands for the Knowledge Is Power Program, opened its Anne Arundel school in 2005 with 60 fifth-grade students, and grade six was added this school year. In the fall, the school plans to enroll seventh-graders but has run out of space at its current location — four borrowed classrooms on the Edgewater campus of Sojourner-Douglass College.
Since last year, KIPP officials have tried to persuade the school board to let them rent space at Annapolis Middle School, which has capacity for more than 1,400 students but has more than 900 vacant seats.
At a public meeting Wednesday, school board members asked questions and pointed out problems such an arrangement might cause. Some of the space is being used by resource teachers and other programs, some said. An International Baccalaureate program, Middle Years, is to debut at Annapolis Middle and might draw more students to the school.
Another factor, board members said, is construction planned for coming years at other Annapolis schools, whose students might have to move temporarily to Annapolis Middle.
“Yes, the space might be there for next year, but after that it may not,” board member Enrique Melendez said. “What we don’t want is for KIPP to move in for a year [and] not be able to find anywhere to go after that, and then we would be put in the position of looking like we might throw them out.”
Andy Smarick, vice chairman of KIPP’s board of directors, said that his school has tried for two years to find another site but that the cost and size of sites have been prohibitive.
“We’ve looked and done our due diligence,” he said. “There are so many things going great for the school now. But if we can’t find space for next year, we’re going to be facing a lot of tough decisions about the future of the school.”
— William Wan
Andy Smarick says school officials have looked for a new site for two years.
KIPP Harbor Academy is now in four borrowed classrooms at a college in Edgewater.