Florida education officials are growing the pool of school districts that could soon get extra money to recruit and collaborate with “high-impact” charter schools.
School districts in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties won state grants last year to bring national charter school networks into their most disadvantaged neighborhoods. A third, Broward, applied for the money, but the school board there ultimately voted to reject it.
This year, another district could get up to $2.5 million in federal and philanthropic money to attract a top charter school operator.
This year, the state Department of Education invited seven districts to submit competing proposals for round two. Broward could give the grant a second look. Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Orange and Hillsborough County school districts are also in the running. Districts were chosen based on size and need. To be eligible this year, they needed to have 20 or more schools graded D or F.
So far, Orange, Hillsborough and Polk have said they’re interested (see the breakdown below, taken from p. 28 of this presentation to a state House panel).
The money is intended to help districts attract proven charter school networks to areas where traditional schools struggle the most. At the same time, districts start actively recruiting schools that can help the broader school system, rather than passively awaiting charter applications. The hope is that in the process, districts can improve their oversight of charter schools, and start learning from them.
The department writes in its bid documents:
The primary purpose of this project is to encourage and support the development and implementation of sustainable strategies to ensure that all students, especially those currently attending or zoned for schools in high-need areas, have access to highly effective schools.
The [District-Charter Collaborative Compact] is an opportunity for Districts to develop and implement bold and innovative strategies for collaborating and partnering with independent high-impact charter school organizations that are capable and prepared to serve students in Florida’s highest need areas.
So far, Duval is ramping up its collaboration with KIPP and Miami-Dade is looking to recruit a similar operator. Which district will be the third, and which charter school networks will it decide to work with? Stay tuned. The next round of proposals is due Oct. 23.