I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Six Charter School Applications Submitted, Only Two Recommended for Board Approval

The Escambia County School Board will be voting this month to accept or reject the recommendations of the ECSD Charter Schools Committee. 
This year, the district received a total of 6 applications for the establishment of charter schools in our district. 
--Two were self-withdrawn by the presenters prior to a final committee recommendation (School for Children with Autism and School for Performing Arts), 
--Two have been recommended for denial (Brownsville Charter School of Excellence and Tristan De Luna Charter School) and
--Two will be recommended for Approval (NewPoint Academy and NewPoint High School)
I looked briefly at several of the initial application packages that were provided to the school board office months ago.  Two looked weak, one was a copy of a previously approved submission, and two looked as though they could be approved by the committee.
In a nutshell, it appears as though the performing arts charter application needed quite a bit more work, and that is the reason it was withdrawn.  The same scenario appears to be the reason for the withdrawal of the Autism school.  The Tristan De Luna application had issues regarding what the application said it was going to provide and what in practice the operators intended with respect to foreign language instruction.   
The Brownsville application was a duplicate of last year’s successful A.A. Dixon Charter application.  It is for that reason that I thought it might be recommended for approval-- but it was denied by the committee via a unanimous 20-0 vote.  This is one that might be appealed to the state Charter School Commission, and depending on their ruling could set up a constitutional “home rule” standoff;  The Board should have the final say as to what charter schools are allowed to operate within its jurisdiction—not a Tallahassee committee.  That is my opinion.
The two NewPoint Schools were recommended for approval unanimously by the committee, and I anticipate they will be approved by the board.  The NewPoint concept is successfully operating in Bay County and the emphasis on providing level 1 and 2 students the opportunity for hands on learning and career academy training will complement Escambia County’s existing career/technical offerings.

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