Mercury Online Academy (virtual school)

UPLAND - The large banner and signs outside Mercury Online Academy's learning facility says it's still enrolling students, but that's far from the case.

Due to a lack of enrollment, the free K-6 charter school closed its doors Friday, one week into its school year.

"We had a back-to-school night on Aug. 11 and met with parents and told them the (enrollment) numbers were not looking good and that we might not be able to open there this year," said Jason Erdmann, the chief administrative office for the charter school in Upland.

"I wanted them to know and told them that we would leave enrollment open for a another week, but there just weren't enough students who enrolled."

By the time school started - Aug. 15 - there were only 20 enrolled students, Erdmann said, which is not enough to pay for the staffing and the rent of the center.

This past Monday, the school's doors were closed.

"When I went to school to pick up my kids on Friday, they were standing in the courtyard crying their eyes out," said Janette Cervantes, who has three children at the academy...

Erdmann said the charter did a lot of advertising and marketing to draw enrollment throughout the year. He said officials manned a booth at the city's Lemon Festival.

"For us to hire a teacher, we need at least 17 students per grade and that was not happening," he said.

Mercury Online school's learning facility is housed at the former Pacific Christian School. That school closed in 2008.

Kern Becker, the executive director for the Pacific Christian Center, said that although Mercury's final rent payment is pending, he trusts "they will pay what they owe."...

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