UPDATE: Bachman Academy closes after 100 years - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Bachman Academy closes after 100 years

Posted: Updated:
McDonald, TN (WRCB) -

A historic school for children with learning differences abruptly closed and now parents are scrambling for other options.

Administrators at Bachman Academy in Bradley County said they informed parents and staff of the decision on May 8.

The school launched in 1906 and began as the “Lynn Bachman Memorial School” in efforts to bring education to hard-to-reach parts of the southern Appalachian Mountains.

"Very, very disappointing. Bachman was just such a wonderful environment for him," Katherine Edwards, a grandmother of a student said.

Edwards said her grandson, Harrison, felt like he was part of a community.

The 17 year old has Asperger's, a form of autism, and started at Bachman Academy in the 7th grade. He was looking forward to his senior year.

Edwards remembers when she received the news the school would be shutting its doors.

"What are we going to do? How are we going to help him? It still is there. Nothing has been decided yet," Edwards said.

Bachman Academy's headmaster, Mark Frizzell, said many factors went into closing the school.

The vote from the board of trustees hinged on a sluggish economy, weak financial status, and low enrollment. At the end of this school year, only 21 students were enrolled, according to Frizzell.

"I had noticed from the time Harrison started there until this year is when I really noticed that the student body had dropped," Edwards said.

The board's chairman, Bryson Kirksey, called the decision difficult, but necessary.

“Within the past few years public schools started to address the concerns of students with learning differences and began to provide more significant learning interventions, which decreased the need for Bachman Academy," Kirksey wrote in a statement.

Edwards said she spoke with other board members who also struggled with the decision.

"I could just tell from his face that they were sick about it too. They did not want to do this. He told me for the last two years, they had really thought of options," Edwards said.

Now Harrison's mother and grandmother are figuring out other options. They include online programs and special tutoring at home.

"The community is losing just a wonderful resource. It diminishes it," Edwards said.

Administrators said 30 staffers worked full time at the school and they're now looking for jobs in the Chattanooga and Cleveland areas.

They're also helping parents find another school similar to Bachman. Frizzell said some students are attending schools in Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Carbondale, Illinois next year.

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