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Charter school seeks approval in Mon and Preston

MORGANTOWN – A charter school is seeking approval to serve students in Monongalia County and the Bruceton Mills area of Preston County.

West Virginia Academy, Ltd., filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office Dec. 27, 2019. John Treu, of Morgantown, is listed as the incorporator and president.

Preston Schools Superintendent Steve Wotring told his board of education about the application at its meeting this week.

“Under the new charter school law — and our policy just basically says we’re going to follow the state’s guidelines on our charter school policy — we now have to have a team to review this application,” Wotring said.

The team is to review the application, based on guidelines handed down by the state. After the review, the team is to provide the board of education with the results. The law passed in the legislature in 2019 requires local school board approval of a charter school.

“Part of the issue with the review is it’s covering two boards,” Wotring said. “Because this is all totally brand new, we’re not quite sure how to go about the review process.”

He has been talking with the Mon superintendent about how to do that.

In the first three years after the passage of legislation, only three charter schools can be approved in the state. The state department of education will act on the applications in December.

On its web site,, the school says it plans to open in the fall of 2021 serving kindergarten through eighth grade, adding a grade level each subsequent year until it serves K though 12.

Its board includes John Treu, president; Susan Dull, treasurer; Heidi Treu, secretary; Whitney Morgan and Sirisha Dodds.

They don’t have a location yet for the school but are looking at properties.

“The funding for the school doesn’t kick in until the school is actually established, so until the charter is approved we couldn’t complete the purchase of land,” John Treu said.

Charter schools are defined as public schools in West Virginia and cannot charge tuition or pick and choose students. Funding is based on student enrollment, just like for public schools. A larger enrollment means more funds to operate.

There will be only six to eight months between when the application could be approved and when the school would open, he noted.

Teachers haven’t been hired because they don’t yet know the school’s enrollment. It proposes to serve 400 to about 1,000 students.

“If we got fewer than 400 students we wouldn’t open,” Treu said.

West Virginia Academy, Ltd., also plans to provide transportation for students.

Treu is an assistant professor and Assistant Department Chair of Accounting in the Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. His wife is a teacher who has taught in public and charter schools.

So why a charter school?

Over the last five years, since moving to Morgantown, they have seen a large diversity in the area, “and there are needs we do not think are being met by the current public system,” Treu said.

A survey of parents backed up their opinion.

He and his colleagues aren’t critical of public systems because their rigid structure is highly regulated. Charter schools can be more innovative because they are exempt from some regulations, he said.

For example, they believe too much money is spent on school administration at the state and local levels.

“The possibility of being innovative and being responsive and able to make changes that can improve education is really quite limited in the public setting,” Treu said.

“It’s like a mission for us. We really want to see a really good school here, and we plan to be here for a long time and we’d like to improve education. Charter schools can provide a really good model for legislators to look to and say ‘That seems to be working, maybe we should adopt their policies.’”

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