Fresno charter school closing at the end of the school year

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Valley Arts and Science Academy, or VASA, will not pursue a charter renewal and will close its doors next summer.

VASA officials wanted Thursday night's meeting discussing the school's closure to be between them and parents. Action News spoke with VASA's executive director about the reason a decision was made to not renew its charter for the 2016/2017 school year."Unfortunately past decisions and the state testing has put us into a position, that even with having been here the two and a half years I've been here, we can't bring the scores up sufficiently to meet the minimum state standards," said Perry Jensen.

He says it boiled down to timing. There wasn't enough of it to show the state necessary growth using the new statewide standardized test. "This is probably the toughest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life," Jensen said. "We love this school. I know that this school is a phenomenal school."

After the meeting, parents said much of the same. They praised teachers and the administration for how they've handled the situation, and how they work with their children. "They know their story," said Maryjane Ball, a parent. "My son has a unique story and they love him and they take care of him and they know how to keep him happy and they know how to teach him."

"Everybody's heartbroken everybody has shed tears. As soon as we found out, as soon as we were told, we were upset, we were angry that this was being decided that we can't do anything about it," said Brooke Payton, another parent.

But Payton says she'll stand by the school, which focuses on learning through the arts and science, until its last day, June 15th, 2016. Teachers say it's hard to come to terms with the fact there will be a last day. "We've had jobs before this, we'll have jobs after this we're not concerned for that right now. What we're concerned is making sure that the kids are taken care of," said VASA First Grade Teacher Heather Dickey.

It will be hard, but VASA officials say they want this transition to be as smooth and dignified for students as possible.

School officials say they're working closely with families to make sure students are matched with a good home for next school year. The decision impacts 226 students in grades K through 6. VASA is located on Glenn Avenue near Blackstone -- close to Fresno's Tower District.
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