Einstein STEAM Academy submits charter petition to Hart district


Nearly a year after the Albert Einstein Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences closed its doors to students in grades seven to 12, the charter school’s founders are hoping to open a new charter school, called the Einstein STEAM Academy, in the same location next year.

The charter school’s founders submitted the five-year charter petition to the William S. Hart Union High School District on Feb. 26.

Last year, the Hart Governing Board unanimously denied the Albert Einstein five-year renewal petition due to concerns about the charter school’s governing structure and finances, which included two delinquent audits, $4 million in deficits and negative working capital of more than $3 million.

“Our concern is not with the academic structure but the financial structure and governance structure,” Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht said at the Hart Board meeting March 1, 2017.

The district also had concerns about the charter school’s expansion into the larger Charter Management Organization (CMO) of AELAS, Inc.

Under its new charter petition, the Einstein STEAM Academy would operate independently of the AEALAS Inc. organization. It would be managed by a new nonprofit organization called the Einstein STEAM Academy and would be run by a new board of directors, according to CEO Maggie Ford.

On Wednesday, the founders of the Einstein STEAM Academy—Ford, Principal Mike McDonnell and Joel Hopkins—will present their charter petition to the Hart district before the district holds a public hearing to “consider the level of support for the petition” from district employees, teachers and parents.

“They’re coming to us under Einstein STEAM Academy and we will listen to them with respect to the issues we had originally and if the new position corrects those issues and fills those needs in the area,” Hart Board President Steven Sturgeon said. “We’re going to have the same questions we had in the ‘closing ceremony.’”

Under its five-year charter petition from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2023, the Einstein STEAM Academy would enroll students in grades 7 to 12 at the old Albert, Einstein Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences building at 28141 Kelly Johnson Pkwy.

The charter petitioners expect to enroll 450 students in the first year of operations who are interested in the charter school’s foreign language instruction and its “instructional philosophy.”

Einstein STEAM Academy’s mission would be to “prepare students for 21st century careers and lives as members of a democratic society and global economy” by providing students with tools to develop their “intellectual, artistic, physical, technological and social competencies.”

Students would graduate with the understanding of the relationships between disciplines and the ability to develop their intellectual curiosity as “globally aware, civic-minded individuals in a small school environment,” according to the charter petition.

The college preparatory, interdisciplinary curriculum would focus on cultural awareness, world language, real-world learning applications, leadership, 21st century learning and community service.

Students would be admitted into the school on a random lottery basis after completing a standardized application.

Einstein STEAM Academy would be managed by a local governing board comprised of five to nine community members and parents who will meet monthly and serve two-year terms.

This board would oversee the school’s financial statements and ensure that the organization completes annual financial audits, according to the petition.

Financially, the Einstein STEAM Academy is projecting to have a positive ending fund balance and income in the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years.

In 2018-19, the school is expected to receive about $3.73 in revenues and have about $3.72 million in expenses, ending with a net income of $10,211.

The following year, revenues are expected to increase to about $4.27 million and expenses are expected to increase to $4.08 million, resulting in a net income of $182,797.

And in 2020-21, revenues are expected to be about $4.88 million and expenses are expected to be about $4.27 million, resulting in a net income of $605,115.

“Careful planning will ensure that the charter school is academically fiscally and operationally sound,” the charter petition read.

After hearing from officials and community members Wednesday, the Hart Governing Board has 60 days to grant or deny the charter petition.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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