The original blueprint for the KIPP Empower Academy read something like this: five teachers per grade; 100 students per grade; very few classroom computers, the Huffington Post reports. But when a plummeting economy led to the elimination in 2009 of California state funding that rewarded elementary schools for keeping their class sizes at around 20 students or fewer, founding Principal Mike Kerr felt forced to shift in a different direction to preserve the central principle of small-group instruction in his not-yet-opened K-2 charter elementary school in southern Los Angeles.
“In essence, we lost about $115,000 in one swoop with losing class-size-reduction funding,” said Mr. Kerr. He added that additional cuts resulting from the ongoing financial crisis had cost the school an additional $85,000 for a total of $200,000, roughly the equivalent of three teacher salaries. “We discussed whether blended learning could be a vehicle to allow us to first and foremost preserve the small-group instruction and see how we could make that happen.”