Fla. Senate proposes new Schools of Hope approach

Travis Pillow

High-performing public-school principals could create mini-networks of “franchise” schools within districts under a new plan the Florida Senate is set to take up later today.

The proposal would offer a new approach for districts trying to turn around persistently low-performing schools. A contentious school turnaround law passed last year gives them three options. They can close persistently low-performing schools, convert them to charters or hire external providers to run them.

A “franchise model school” would be a fourth option. Districts could give the reins of a low-performing school to a principal with highly effective performance reviews. Those principals would run the franchise schools in addition to the schools where they already worked. They would have the discretion to pool resources between their schools as they saw fit.

The franchise schools would be eligible for state Schools of Hope grants. The funding, roughly $140 million this year, is intended to help lure top charter school operators to struggling areas and support low-performing district schools that want to transform their academics and offer more support services to students.

The franchise proposal is part of an amendment to SB 1434, which could soon become a wide-ranging measure. It would address several issues from the debate that led to HB 7069 last year. For example, it would revive a Senate proposal intended to stop profit-making by charter school real estate investors.

The Senate Education Committee is slated to discuss the proposal at 3:30 p.m.

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