The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 5, 2010

Academy will not reopen

MSU president cites economic conditions

The Academy at Mountain State University announced that it will not reopen for the 2010-2011 term.

“The difficult decision was rendered after careful review of the preparatory school’s inability to operate with financial stability again this year,” a statement released Wednesday said.

The private school opened in September 2002.

“Our experience with the Academy has been just the opposite of what we are experiencing at the university level,” Dr. Charles H. Polk, president and CEO of Mountain State University, said in the release.

“While the economy has led many people to try to improve their job opportunities by seeking a college education, the economy has also made it very difficult for families raising children to be able to afford the costs of a private secondary education.”

With just over two weeks left in summer break, the timing of the announcement gives parents a short amount of time to secure a new school for their children.

“Our fiscal year ends June 30,” Polk explained. “Throughout the month of July, we work on closing the books. We anticipated a $50,000 shortfall once that process was completed at the end of July. Rather, we found the deficit to be $165,000 for the 09-10 school year alone.

“We began the MSU Academy seven years ago because of the interest of a number of parents in our community in developing a private academy education program as an alternative choice,” Polk said. “And, I believe we have been very successful in providing the kinds of enhanced academic experiences those parents were seeking for their children.”

Polk also noted that since the inception of the Academy, MSU has committed over $2 million dollars to keep the school operating. With an insufficient student enrollment and a significant budget deficit between $250,000 and $400,000 anticipated next year, MSU officials found there was no choice but to cease operating the academy, he added.

“We started the school during what appeared to be a healthy, growing economy,” Polk said. “Unfortunately, the growth we initially experienced began to reverse as the nation’s economy declined. Our Academy teachers and students have been outstanding, and we are proud of them. Our students clearly have the capacity to achieve many of the great things their parents hope for them. For those who have not yet graduated, we wish their time at the Academy could have continued.”

Dr. Cindy Alexander, executive vice president of Administration, added, “We recognize the tremendous amount of work that parents, faculty, and staff, particularly Dr. Jill Hopkins, have put forth over the years. We are also very grateful for the parents that have been most generous with their private resources. That is why this has been such a difficult decision for us. We wish nothing but the best for the students and families.”

— E-mail: jworkman@register-herald.com

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