A charter school slated to open this fall for students with development and intellectual disabilities raised more than $100,000 last month, narrowing significantly a budget gap that could have prevented them from opening.
Dynamic Community Charter School still will need to raise money in the coming months, but the successful campaign leaves officials on far firmer financial ground, said Diane Morris, president of the school’s board.
About 500 donations from family, friends and businesses helped the school reach its goal of $100,000, and the donations continue to roll in.
While a few individual contributions topped the $1,000 mark, many smaller contributions from friends and family who are passionate about the school’s mission are put the campaign over the top, Morris said.
“It’s an actual community of people dedicated to making the school succeed. It's stunning,” she said.
Morris said that the school is waiting for the final budget numbers from state and county officials that will allow Dynamic to complete its own budget for the 2014-2015 school year.
Prior to the campaign, Morris had anticipated needing to raise $160,000 to cover costs during the upcoming year.
Charter schools are funded by taxpayer dollars that can be supplemented by private fundraising. They are exempt from some of the regulations that traditional public schools must follow, and are independent from local school districts.
State officials in June released a report that said eight charter schools — including Dynamic — had made only “slight progress” toward opening, based on self-reported data.
Among the concerns for the state was Dynamic’s funding shortfall. Officials had asked that the school provide evidence of their progress toward opening by Aug. 1.
Joel Medley, director of the state’s Office of Charter Schools, said Dynamic’s fundraising success is “huge,” and a complement to the work the school has done to fully enroll the school, secure a location and hire key faculty and staff.
“They’re doing everything they should be doing,” he said.
Morris said the school will have several advantages as it works to fundraise and maintain a balanced budget in the future, compared with this first round.
Dynamic expects to have secured its federal nonprofit status, which will make applying for grants and receiving donations from business easier.
The school also should have a better idea of how many students will qualify for “exceptional child” funding. A greater than expected number of students did not qualify for the funding this year because they were previously enrolled in private or home-schools, not public or charter schools.
The school also could qualify for additional special education funding once students needs are assessed and documented this fall.