Montgomery Co. school board blocks plans for district’s first charter school

The school board in Montgomery County, Maryland, has squashed plans to open the first charter school in the district, voting 7-1 against opening a proposed charter school in Gaithersburg.

The Mentoring by Example College & Career Academy Business Learning Institute had already secured a $900 million grant for startup costs and planned to serve middle and high school students with a business-oriented curriculum. It also had the support of School Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight.



Before the vote, McKnight spoke about how the school’s administrators had satisfied earlier concerns. The board also rejected plans by MBLI last year, citing concerns about enrollment, transportation and the charter school’s ability to maintain funding.

“There was an articulated educational philosophy that was shared with us, we also talked about the founders’ experience around school leadership,” McKnight said.

Montgomery County Public School staff members supported conditional approval of the school, requiring more information by July 2023. However, board member Judith Docca indicated there were too many uncertainties, including the possibility future admissions would be too low, which would impact funding based on student enrollment numbers.

“I still have a concern over the enrollment,” Docca said. “In my mind, it means a lot of transportation is going to be involved because of the location.”

Docca also noted that a lot of Gaithersburg residents walk. However, the school’s location presented concerns about how students would be able to arrive to class.

“It is a walking community for the most part, but I’m not sure how many could really walk to your program,” Docca said.

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