The Academy of Christian Leadership (ACL) announced today that it will suspend operations for the 2012-13 school year. A variety of factors led to this decision. According to Board President Pat Cavagnaro, “Our student numbers have been declining since 2008 and it is apparent that our families are struggling financially. The immediate reason to close for a year is low enrollment. But the decision was about more than money.”
This year the school hired Dr. Benjamin Hart as Assistant Principal to help evaluate the program and decide its future. Dr. Hart immediately recognized that to continue with the rigorous junior and senior high program, the school needed better-prepared incoming students. “We made a decision to start a grammar school, but we started about six months too late in the season to make it viable.”
Another problem that has plagued the school for nine years is transportation. Like many rural schools, ACL depends on public school bussing where students within 15 miles of the school qualify for free busing. “While we get some students each year from Rensselaer County, the bulk of our students come from Columbia County,” according to Cavagnaro. “Being so far to the north, we struggle each year to keep a Hudson and Taconic bus.” This year the school looked at buying two former Ichabod Crane school buildings in order to position itself farther south, but neither option worked out.
The school is going to take the next several months to evaluate all of these issues from location to what grades to serve, as well as take a hard look at mistakes made in the past, stated Cavagnaro. “Our plan is to hold forums with parents and decide how we can best serve the community. As a Christian mission, we are here to help those in need. Dr. Hart is staying on to head up this effort, and we will be working with a team of consultants to implement best industry practices. We expect to start the 2013-14 school year stronger than ever.”
ACL is a non-profit 501(c)3 education corporation. To contact the school about participating in a forum over the next several months, click here.