The Equity Academy

1 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2020

See all articles by Luann J. Lynch

Luann J. Lynch

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Stephanie Spangler

Bellwether Education Partners, Inc.


A former teacher in Washington, DC, in her final year of graduate school pursuing an MBA is tasked with preparing a five-year financial forecast to support an application for a potential charter school being considered in the Washington, DC, area. The protagonist must make enrollment predictions, forecast revenues based on those predictions as well as DC Charter School funding expectations, and forecast staff-related, occupancy, student, and administrative expenses en route to compiling her five-year financial forecast that will be presented at the DC school board meeting as part of application for charter school approval.



Sept. 1, 2020

The Equity Academy

“So, Stephanie, can we afford our school model or not?”

This question ran through Stephanie Spangler's mind as she worked her way through each line of the Equity Academy's five-year financial forecast. While the physical school did not yet exist, the school's financial model was becoming more of a reality every day. The Equity Academy was the vision of Matthew Short, a Washington, DC, native who had worked in the city's education ecosystem for over 20 years. Short had received a substantial grant to fund the incubation of his idea for a new middle school in the district. He was quickly gaining political traction among city decision-makers, and his funders read like a “who's who” of education philanthropies across the country.

Spangler, a former teacher in DC, was in her final year of graduate school at the University of Virginia, where, as a student in its dual-degree program between the Darden School of Business and the Curry School of Education, she would earn both a Master of Business Administration and a Master in Education. That fall, Spangler met Short at a networking event held by one of his main funders, the Wollard Family Foundation. The two immediately hit it off and scheduled a time to meet and further discuss Short's aspirations to found a new middle school in DC. In several subsequent conversations, Spangler came to admire Short's plan to open a small, racially integrated middle school in the northeast part of the city. Eager to apply her newly acquired business skills in an explicitly education context, she agreed to help Short create a five-year financial forecast for his first board meeting at the end of October.

. . .

Keywords: budgeting, financial planning, variance analysis, accounting

Suggested Citation

Lynch, Luann J. and Spangler, Stephanie, The Equity Academy. Darden Case No. UVA-C-2435, Available at SSRN:

Luann J. Lynch (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4721 (Phone)
434-243-7677 (Fax)


Stephanie Spangler

Bellwether Education Partners, Inc. ( email )

United States

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