Charter Schools

Change in open enrollment law providing more choice options for students

In the first year after Florida lawmakers passed legislation that lets parents choose public schools across county lines, the state Department of Education reports that 5,397 students took advantage in 2017. As such, educational choice experts proclaim that the controlled open enrollment law signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2016 is working. “As more parents learn about this option, it will mean more students will have the opportunity to receive a quality education in the school that best fits their needs,” said Adam Peshek, managing director of opportunity policy at the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Even so, there is still a...
charter schools

Coral Springs Charter School alum teaches life lessons at his alma mater

News of February’s deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, sent waves of shock and terror through the community. Just 10 minutes south of the shooting that took 17 lives, students at Coral Springs Charter School struggled to process the tragedy. The next day, many of them went to their known “safe zone” – Joey Melendez’s drama classroom. “Students from all different class periods flooded into my room to sit in our circle on the floor and talk about what was going on and what they were feeling,” said Melendez, a Coral Springs Charter alum who is...
charter schools

School choice parents make their case – and win

Tuesday night, city council members in the beautiful Central Florida town of Clermont had to decide whether to put children’s needs ahead of adults’ needs. We were told beforehand it wasn’t looking good. For a few months, dozens of parents had attended information nights, sponsored by Florida Parent Network and run by Keith Jacobs, our manager of charter school initiatives. During these sessions, parents discussed their need for more educational options in fast-growing Lake County. They talked about overcrowded classrooms, portables that smelled of mold and mildew, lunches scheduled at 10 a.m. because the sheer number of students required staggered, and...

Florida districts build partnerships with charter schools to alleviate overcrowding

  The population was booming on the Gold Coast in the 1990s, surging by 20 percent in Broward and Miami-Dade alone, just as Florida passed a new law opening the door to charter schools. Maggie Fresen Zulueta, who helped create one of the state’s first charter schools, remembers the pressures well. “The schools were severely overcrowded,” she said. “You had situations at the nearby public schools with multiple trailers in their fields.” Zulueta and her husband opened Somerset Academy in Miramar with a dual purpose – to give parents a different learning option for their students and to help the school district...
Academy at the Farm

Positive culture feeds Academy at the Farm’s success

Kelly McKiernan wiped her hair from her face and placed a bottle of water to the mouth of a baby cow. Her boots were caked with mud, and an unrelenting sun beat down as "Little Bit" drank voraciously. This scene could be any family ranch in America. But it's occurring at Academy at the Farm, a charter school outside Dade City, Florida, that is redefining classroom boundaries. An eighth-grader, Kelly has been involved with the school’s agriculture program, which includes raising goats, cattle and hogs, as well as hydroponic farming, since its inception three years ago. “I like to learn a lot...

Twelve Florida schools receive blue ribbon recognition

Twelve Florida schools were recognized Monday as National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. More than half are schools of choice: four are magnet schools and three are charter schools. The awards are made in two categories: either on a school’s progress in closing achievement gaps for disadvantaged students or for high overall student achievement measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. The four magnet schools in Florida designated as exemplary high-performing for 2018 are: George Washington Carver Middle School and Herbert Ammons Middle School, both in Miami; Tarpon Springs Fundamental Elementary School in Tarpon Springs; and Stanton...

Florida B.O.E. requests additional $10 million for charter school construction

The Florida Board of Education last week asked lawmakers to give charter schools an extra $10.2 million for classroom construction next year, increasing the charter allocation from the Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) fund to $155 million. That recommendation was made easier by the projected growth in the gross receipts tax that feeds the PECO fund, but it also calls attention to a new trigger built into law that is designed to protect charter schools from dips in state support. Under a new law intended to provide a safety net for charter capital funding, school districts are required to share...
Tallahassee classical

Florida Board of Education overturns charter rejection in Leon County

The Florida Board of Education on Friday overturned Leon County’s rejection of a new charter school. The action means that, barring additional appeals, Tallahassee Classical School will be allowed to open in the 2019-2020 school year. The vote is the second time this summer the board has overturned a school board’s rejection of a charter school application. In July, the board supported opening two charter schools in Palm Beach county that were rejected by the Palm Beach School Board. The decisions followed separate recommendations by the Charter School Appeal Commission, which ruled that the school boards did not have good cause...