June 15, 2024
Annapolis, US 74 F

New Village Academy Presses Pause Button. Scheduled Opening Now Fall 2025

The Governing Board of New Village Academy Public Charter School made the difficult decision to defer the school’s opening until Fall 2025. This decision follows Westfield/URW’s imposition of an unexpected lease negotiation freeze during a “due diligence period” in preparation for an impending sale of the Westfield Annapolis Mall. Despite enthusiasm from the 235 families who applied for 150 seats, and from community partners across the city and county for this career-connected, project-based learning model, the timing of this lease negotiation freeze will prevent the school from opening on time this Fall.

The previous Nordstrom space at the Mall was the school’s planned location for its first year of operation. New Village Academy had secured fire and building permits and the temporary school location was approved by school officials. This sudden turn of events has left New Village Academy without the certainty of a physical location needed to proceed with an August 2024 opening.

Alternate Short-Term Facilities

Earlier this year, New Village Academy identified contingency plans for alternate sites, including the Mt. Olive Community Life Center and the former Aleph Bet Day School. However, feasibility analyses revealed significant limitations: Mt. Olive’s capacity constraints and Aleph Bet’s challenging transit options for many of our enrolled families made these alternatives unviable. A survey of enrolled families that the school sent out Monday, May 13th indicated they could lose enough families in this last-minute transition that it was not financially wise to try to open in either of those locations.

Long-Term Facility Impact

Despite the lease negotiation freeze and the resulting postponement of the school’s opening, New Village Academy leadership is optimistic about preparations for its long-term facility. They anticipate that negotiations will resume swiftly following the due diligence lease negotiation freeze with either the current owner or a new owner. The school’s intended permanent facility already has a design by world-renowned architect, Trung Le, near-final permit approvals, and financing lined up and ready to begin the project.

Mitigating the Impact

New Village Academy’s leadership had proactively communicated these developments to its enrolled and waitlisted families and staff, holding an in-person Open House and Virtual Q&A to address concerns. In a survey, more than 85% of prospective students and teachers have indicated they may be willing to wait for New Village Academy and are still interested in Fall 2025. School founder and principal Romey Pittman reported, “Because we have been transparent throughout the process, it has been remarkable that not one person has yet directed frustration toward New Village Academy for this turn of events.” New Village Academy intends to give families who were offered a seat this year priority in next year’s lottery process.

Looking Ahead

While this delay is disappointing for New Village Academy leaders and families, it affords New Village Academy the opportunity to enhance its preparations for launching the school. Darius A. Stanton, President of the New Village Academy Governing Board, said the school plans to “use this additional time to secure a strong funding base, finalize our innovative curriculum and assessment structures, deepen community support and partnerships, and recruit a diverse and brilliant instructional team.” New Village Academy is fully committed to opening “high school done differently” in a state-of-the-art permanent facility in Fall 2025.

We spoke with Romey Pittman and Darius Stanton of New Village Academy last year. Have a listen.

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