East Academy, a kindergarten through eighth grade private school that served a large economically disadvantaged student population, has closed down after not reaching sufficient enrollment figures.
The school, founded in 2001, won’t re-open this year at either its elementary school on Chapel Avenue or middle school on Russell Street, said Tim Lehning, who serves on the academy’s board of directors.
“It’s very simple math,” Lehning said. “We did not meet our enrollment needs to fund the budget.
“You have two sources of revenue,” he said. “You have enrollment revenue and you have fundraising revenue. The fundraising revenue is directly correlated with your enrollment numbers. And if you can’t reach your enrollment numbers then it’s hard to ask people to fund the school.”
At last count, East Academy had a student body of 125 students, with more than half relying on some form of student aid. Known for its ethnically and economically diverse student body, East Academy’s motto was, “A school for all kinds of great kids.”
Earlier this week, East Academy administrators sent letters to parents notifying them of the imminent closure. Lehning said the school would do everything it can to relocate the displaced students to a new school of their liking.
“It’s tremendously disappointing,” said Carol McCullough, a board member whose son attended the school. “My son absolutely thrived there, as did many children. We had real high hopes for the coming year. I felt like we had a good team in place, but we just could not overcome the financial burden.”