Charter schools are an investment. Like most ventures, some risk is involved in order to realize a return on the investment. Some fail, while some end academically and financially successful. Unlike school districts, the risks of charter schools face are usually life and death struggles for the survival of the organization.
When a school district fails, which happens from time to time, leaders are replaced, teachers are laid off, and, in the worst cases, the district goes into receivership, essentially losing autonomy in exchange for funding and leadership that keeps the organization alive. When charter schools fail, they go out of business. But unlike private corporations, charter schools are public entities. So, in addition to employees and founders losing their jobs and all they've worked for, the state loses an investment.
Like most investments, it takes time to realize the return, as mentioned. At Method, the first year we failed to turn a profit. We survived on loans and one-time grants. It was painful and humbling. And of course, it was unnerving. Any Method employee who's been with us from the beginning knows how hard this time was, even if they don't know all the details that went into making sure payroll cleared and the lights stayed on. By the second year, we became operationally solvent, and more energy could be allocated to academics than survival. This is the phase where the State - and really, taxpayers - can really begin to see the fruits of the Method School investment.
In July, we'll celebrate five years as a company, and our first schools - based out of San Diego - will begin the 5th year od operations. It's a time to look back at where we've come from, and to look forward to a future of maximizing the trust and investment placed in us. Here's a look back at some of the highlights (we'll save the lowlights for another time):
- Operational solvency by the second year while allocating the more than the state-required amount each year to our rainy day fund
- Double digit enrollment growth every single year since opening
- An academic model that helps students grow academically at or above targeted metrics (for students who stay with Method for an entire year)
- Development of our own online, mobile-friendly, UC and NCAA approved online curriculum that other schools and districts are now using in addition to our own students
- A fully integrated Student Information System (SIS) / Learning Management System (LMS) that does things that we couldn't get from any other provider out there
- And most importantly, we've built a place where students can feel safe and free to be themselves
It's fun to take a moment to look back at some of the things we've accomplished as a team - and our team includes our families and students - not just employees. But moving forward, our focus will be just that - looking ahead at what we can do to make public education better, more customized, more personal, more effective. Thanks for investing in Method Schools - and as always, we'll do everything we can to maximize the return.
To further personalize learning, check out our customizable and mobile-friendly online curriculum. Built by curriculum pros at Method Schools, we call it SmartFox. High quality, low cost, and, as mentioned, built by a school, not a vendor. In 2018, we're adding projects to our online courses. Not only will our courses be infused with projects and hands-on learning extensions, but schools can purchase and modify our online courses and add their own projects.