The Bedford Falls Academy Charter School
At the beginning of a new school year during the Great Recession, Bedford Falls Academy Executive Director Susan Lundberg proposes an ambitious five-year capital improvement and enrollment growth plan. The plan is a complete surprise to the Board, which had met to discuss the school’s strategy just three months earlier. Over the previous three years the highly leveraged and cash strapped school has purchased a new facility on two hundred acres of property, expanded its enrollment area to surrounding communities, and expanded is programming from grades 5-8 to include grades 9-12. The 600 student enrollment is double the enrollment before the expansion that began four years ago. However, the 300 student target for the high school has fallen short by 100 students and, to compensate, the school, with state permission, has made up the shortfall with middle school students drawn from its long waiting list. Executive Director Lundberg has a new five-year contract, but must deal with a board that is divided over the use of the school’s land, only a small portion of which is actually needed for the school’s facilities. Most of the land is covered with mature trees and wetlands. Three board members, led by Treasurer Pat Richards, want to place the school on a firmer financial footing by selling of a large portion of the land and using the proceeds to pay down debt and establish a small endowment. Four board members, including Chairperson Ken Jones, believe that the land is a public trust and an important element of the school’s brand. A showdown is brewing.