In midst of first year, Alexandria Academy could shut doors

In midst of first year, Alexandria Academy could shut doors

Less than a year after classes began the future is in doubt for the citys newest private school, though parents hope to keep the Alexandria Academy afloat. 
While parents say they arent privy to the South Washington Street schools ledgers, they are committed to keeping the academys doors open through the end of the year and into next, said Brian McGovern, treasurer of the Alexandria Academy Parent Association. 
Apparently there were folks in the beginning who promised to have donations that fell through, McGovern said. The school has been trying to make the best of it and move along. Like anything else it comes to a point where something further is needed.
Public records for the academys nonprofit parent organization show The Fund For Classical Education has ended the last two fiscal years in the red. By June 30, 2009, the trust had spent $43,271 or $2,221 more than listed in its coffers. A year later, and just months before the academy officially opened, organizers had gone through more than double what they had in the books, reporting a net loss of $502,950 to the IRS. 
Parent Association President Ann Henshaw sent an e-mail a week ago, procured by the Times, asking for a tally of additional dollars parents could contribute to keep the school from shuttering before the school years end. 
School officials declined to comment and now former headmaster T.R. Ahlstrom would say nothing further than the academy is going to be fine. Ahlstrom remains on as chairman of the trust. 
But parents acknowledge the possibility of the school closing early exists, even if the prospect is remote. Theyre rallying, Henshaw said in an interview Tuesday. 
A committed group of supporters remains behind the academy and its classical curricula, which stress grammar, logic and rhetoric as well as math and the sciences, said parent Carolyn Van Damme.
I do think there is a core group of parents, and I would consider myself in that category along with my husband, who think the school will rally, she said. [We] think that we can, if we get enough good minds together, get to the end of the school year and begin planning for next year and make sure were on a much more solid financial basis when the school doors open in September.
Though she heaped praise on the faculty, Van Damme believes Ahlstrom may not have been perhaps the best person to run the schools day-to-day operations. Shes not alone in that critique. 
I think T.R. Ahlstrom has a vision, but I think it probably would have been better to have a classicist who is trained in running a school, starting a school, said fellow parent Shelly Bird. I think it would have helped to have a lot more, maybe community involvement, maybe delaying it a year just to prepare the groundwork. For whatever reason, he decided to go forward. It wasnt until a month or two ago the PA realized how bad the situation was.
The schools opening was bumpy, when Ahlstrom admitted planning to open the academy with more students than permitted under zoning regulations. Accommodations were made after city officials caught wind of his remarks.