When Florida Gov. Rick Scott unveiled his education agenda last week, he threw out a potentially far-reaching idea: Allowing districts to open their own charter schools.
The proposal could address a common complaint among traditional school districts – that federal and state bureaucracies prevent their schools from being as innovative as charter schools. But how would these District Charter Innovation Schools, as Scott called them, actually work? Would they truly be as flexible as independent charter schools?
We’re waiting to hear more. Scott didn’t spell out specifics, beyond saying the schools would operate with the same funding levels as other charter schools. His press secretary, Jackie Schutz, told redefinED she couldn’t provide any more details.
In the meantime, there may be clues in the handful of district-run charter schools that already have been approved by the state Department of Education. They don’t look like typical charter schools. But in some respects, they do veer from the framework of more traditional public schools.
The Academy for International Education Charter School in Miami Springs is a year-old “hybrid’’ school that offers a curriculum based on magnet and charter school programs, with students learning second and third languages.
The principal is a 30-year district employee who left the traditional public realm for the charter. The academy has a nonprofit board that is technically independent from the district, but has contracted with the Miami-Dade district for services, including custodial and cafeteria workers. The school also leases space from the district, significantly reducing facility expenses. Miami-Dade district and school officials did not return calls for comment.
In Polk County, DOE approved another district-run, charter endeavor, Step Up Academy, in August.