Mansfield City Schools Closes Tyger Digital Academy Effective Immediately
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Mansfield City Schools Closes Tyger Digital Academy Effective Immediately

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About 60 students and their families will have to change their education plans after a vote Tuesday to close Tyger Digital Academy.

The Mansfield City Schools Board of Education held a special meeting at the board office to close the TDA effective immediately. The vote was 3-0, with member Gary Feagin abstaining. Member Jennifer Kime was not present at the meeting.

“This is not a decision we made lightly,” said CEO Chris Elswick. “Tyger Digital Academy was paid for with COVID money. The money is gone. COVID is gone.”

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According to a press release issued after the meeting, the decision came after a review of the district’s five-year financial forecast. Mansfield City Schools is projected to have a $3.3 million spending shortfall in fiscal year 2024 and a $2.2 million spending shortfall in each of the next two fiscal years.

Closing TDA will save the district more than $2 million.

“This is not over yet. This is just the beginning,” Elswick said of the coming cuts. The board has already put aside a 2% pay rise for administrators, and Elswick said a reduction in the workforce could come.

More than 30 people attended Tuesday’s meeting, some standing in the hallway because all the seats were taken. Six people addressed the board.

Grandma wanted to be informed earlier about the possibility of closing the store

Nancy Murphy asked why more information was not provided. She learned of the possible closure in mid-June.

“I feel like we’ve been cornered,” Murphy said. “We haven’t been given a chance to help.”

He has a grandson who was a student at Tyger Digital Academy.

“TDA has become a family over the last four years,” Murphy said, becoming emotional. “My grandson and I are losing our family. It’s heartbreaking.”

Feagin addressed the crowd before the next person spoke. He abstained because his wife was a TDA employee.

“I agree with you 110%. I think the decision was made rashly,” Feagin said. “I think the timing was wrong.”

Matt Clark, an intervention specialist at TDA, said he learned of the possibility of the deal closing on July 1.

“Nobody has mentioned it, at least that I have known, for the past year,” he said.

Clark said the majority of TDA students attend special education schools.

“A lot of my kids came from public schools where they didn’t have success,” he said. “I think they might not be able to handle the classroom.

“They want to learn. They just have a different way of doing it.”

Pam Lawless said she too was “shocked”. She said the two TDA employees had one year left to complete 30 years of education and were looking forward to retirement.

“We understand this news may be challenging for our TDA families,” Superintendent Stan Jefferson said in a news release. “This decision was not made lightly, and we deeply regret any inconvenience it may cause. We are committed to supporting all of our students and families through this transition.”

TDA students are encouraged to join one of the district’s brick-and-mortar schools. Those who require an online learning environment will need to seek alternative options outside of Mansfield City Schools.

Tyger Digital Academy employees will be transferred to other positions

Elswick said TDA employees will be reassigned and assigned to other schools in the district.

“There will be no layoffs,” Elswick said.

Feagin suggested there is an alternative to closing TDA. He said closing grades K-6 and keeping grades 7-12 open would save $1 million.

Feagin said he fears closing the school will send some children to the streets.

“I’ve been thinking about it all week,” he said.

Elswick said he sympathized with those affected.

“I think it was a great program. It breaks my heart, too,” he said, “but we’re in a situation where we just don’t have the money.”

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