It’s an idea gaining momentum in Florida this legislative session: letting a few district schools choose curriculum, lease buildings and enjoy wiggle room when it comes to class size.
The concept, coined “district innovation schools,’’ would allow high-performing public schools to operate with some of the same freedom that has helped many charter schools succeed.
Assuming the legislation passes – and its odds look good at this point – it remains to be seen whether the innovation schools can carve out flexible terms during collective bargaining with teachers unions – like, say, having more power over hiring and firing. But even if that doesn’t happen, some observers said, the added leeway still could make a difference.
“We’ve learned a lot from charter schools,’’ Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat and the bill sponsor, told redefinED. “They have been able to think outside the box.’’
Montford is a former Leon County superintendent and CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.
Charters are funded by taxpayer dollars, but have their own governing boards and power over personnel decisions. They also can meet the state’s stringent class-size mandate for core classes on a schoolwide average instead of class by class – something districts must do or pay hefty fines.
The result, some say, is charters can be more innovative, creative – and academically successful. Continue Reading →