City on a Hill Charter Public Schools’ Board of Trustees Votes to Implement Key Changes in Response to Declining Enrollment

FOR RELEASE: November 25, 2019                               Contact: press@cityonahill.org

Statement can be attributed to Kevin T. Taylor, CEO

BOSTON, MA – November 25, 2019This morning, City on a Hill Charter Public Schools’ (CoaH) Board of Trustees voted to implement a number of key changes across the organization in order to improve the schools’ academic programming and ensure financial viability.

CoaH operates two charter public high schools in Boston (CoaH Circuit Street and CoaH Dudley Square) and one charter public high school in New Bedford (CoaH New Bedford). In recent years, all three schools have faced academic, enrollment, and financial challenges.

All three schools have been struggling academically. CoaH New Bedford was placed on probation by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in January 2019, and CoaH Circuit Street and CoaH Dudley Street received low accountability ratings from the state for the second year in a row in September 2019.

Enrollment across all three schools has been falling, resulting in a loss of state and federal revenue. CoaH is chartered to enroll 840 students across all three schools. In the 2018-2019 school year, there were 710 students at COAH, resulting in $842K of lower state and federal funding vs. the 2017-2018 school year. CoaH reported 570 students in its October SIMS report and the continued enrollment decline in the 2019-2020 school year is projected to contribute to a significant additional shortfall in state and federal funding.

As a result, the CoaH Board has directed the organization to enact immediate operational changes to balance budgets through the end of the year, while improving academic experiences for students. The Board also voted to relinquish its charter for CoaH New Bedford at the end of this school year, citing that despite every effort by members of the school community to implement a multi-part strategy to transform the academic experience at CoaH New Bedford, the school has not made progress against its conditions.

“Our priorities are, first and foremost, student academic outcomes and preserving as many teaching positions as possible,” said Kevin T. Taylor, CEO of CoaH. “As such, we will prioritize eliminating non-teaching and other administrative roles. We are working in real time to identify changes, including accelerating our timeline to co-locate students and staff at Circuit Street and Dudley Square, which will enable us to keep more teaching and critical support roles and focus on academic success.”

The size of the deficit will necessitate some staffing cuts at all three schools.

CoaH’s administration has been in ongoing negotiations with the Boston Teachers Union (BTU), which represents CoaH teachers, and remains committed to reaching an agreement on an initial contract.

“We will continue to work with the BTU as partners to figure out the details of co-location and required staffing cuts,” said Taylor. “We plan to base layoffs on seniority status, following the spirit of our ongoing negotiations with the BTU.”

“While these decisions are difficult to make” Taylor added, “they are grounded in our mission to improve academic outcomes for our students, and we are committed to ensuring that these necessary changes have a long-term positive impact on our students’ academic experience. As we strengthen our program and our finances, we expect enrollment in Boston to rebound. As it does, we will add staff positions and a greater variety of course offerings. We believe that the plan we are putting in place will enable us to better partner with our students, teachers and families, leading to stronger academic results for our students.”

About City on a Hill

City on a Hill Charter Public School New Bedford opened in September 2014 and is part of a network of three college preparatory high schools in the cities of Boston and New Bedford that was founded in 1995. Each City on a Hill school is tuition-free and open to all students. City on a Hill schools do not have entrance exams; students are admitted by a random lottery.

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