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Keeping the Doors Open: Sustaining Success
Blueprints for programmatic change are rarely implemented in a formulaic way. The stakeholders in each of these profiled schools are anchored by a shared mission, but they remain flexible enough to adapt to altered circumstances, whether loss of start-up funds, changes in district demographics, turnover of leadership, or anything else that might shake up a school.
The flow of funding for public schools in general can be uncertain, a common threat to sustaining innovative reform. Grants run out, state budgets can be cut, enrollment trends may force district leadership to reorder fiscal priorities. Beyond its start-up costs, a successful magnet school requires money for ongoing professional development, new theme-based materials, and updated technology to remain cutting-edge and attractive to constituents.
The experiences of these profiled sites illustrate Einstein's observation that "in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." In the face of adversity, the staff at these schools have developed stronger systems, processes, and networks. Sustainability involves more than program maintenance. These schools have staying power because of their adaptability and capacity for meeting challenges without diluting the integrity of their mission.