Leon County's latest charter school is already closing its doors.
Red Hills Academy cited low enrollment and processing issues as reasons for shuttering just weeks after its grand opening. The last day of school will be Sept. 30.
"We wanted to be that small, nurturing school and loving school, which we were, we were. We just didn't have the numbers," said Laura Joanos, board chair of Red Hills Academy and a local elementary school teacher of almost four decades.
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The school needed 90 students to pay expenses but only had 30 enrolled.
Joanos said administrators looked into applying for a bridge loan but were denied.
"These lenders were not interested in the risk and suggested we not waste our time putting together a formal request," she said. "At that point, with funds running out, I wanted to provide staff, parents, and students the most amount of time possible to prepare for student transfers and possible other employment opportunities."
Some students have already transferred to other charter schools or to their home zone public school, Joanos said.
Parents received an email about the school's closing and were "devastated," Joanos said.
"We're grateful to the district and other charter schools for opening their doors to help parents place their kids," she said.
More about Red Hills:
Red Hills was Leon County's sixth approved charter school.
Joanos previously said the charter planned to offer a second language to children for 30 minutes a day and emphasized the board's diversity, which she said would attract a diverse student population.
Leon County School Board members had originally denied the school's application based on what they called budget and safety concerns at the time. The Florida Charter School Appeal Commission later overruled the board, recommending that the state Board OK the plan.
The state board approved Red Hills by a 6-0 vote in October of last year, and the school opened this fall.
Charter schools are public schools run by nonprofit boards. They do not have to comply with district policies nor are they required to follow certain state laws governing traditional public schools.
Red Hills Academy operated on Austin Davis Boulevard near the corner of Mahan Drive and Capital Circle Northeast. The school's principal was Shannon Paasch, an assistant principal who came from a charter school in Pasco County.
Joanos is married to former Leon County Commissioner Manny Joanos, also the district's former transportation director and now at Lively Tech. Joanos was reassigned to another post in 2019 after a first-day-of-school bus routing meltdown that left hundreds of students stranded at bus stops and schools.
He ran for Leon County Commissioner District 2 this year but lost in a crowded race of seven candidates with 13.2% of the vote.
Contact Ana Goñi-Lessan at AGoniLessan@tallahassee.com and follow her on Twitter @goni_lessan.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Leon County charter school Red Hills Academy set to close