Wednesday, June 20, 2018

In Hillsborough, charter schools are the elephant in the boardroom

More fallout from Tuesday's Hillsborough County School Board meeting involves charter schools.

The board, as promised, heard a presentation from charter schools director Jenna Hodgens about the many charter applications that are withdrawn before they ever get to the board for a vote. This was intended to counter criticism Superintendent Jeff Eakins and the board have taken in recent years over the fact that the board virtually never votes down a charter application.

They don't have to, the argument goes: The applicants are turned back before their projects get that far. And they often resubmit those applications after working with Hodgens to fix their shortcomings.

Here is a year-by-year accounting of the applications and withdrawals. Dating back to 2000, it shows that as many as 15 can be withdrawn in a year.

To put a finer point on the argument, board attorney Jim Porter said the district saves money on legal fees because other school boards turn down charter proposals, only to have them appeal to the state.

Now, opponents to the whole charter school movement would come back with two counter arguments:  1. Hodgens and her staff are expending public resources to help charter applicants perfect their applications; and  2. As for legal fees, the district could save a lot of money by using inhouse counsel, as other large districts do.

Member Tamara Shamburger, at the very end of the meeting, said it is important for everyone involved to do some "self reflection" and consider how the district's public image might be pushing some families to charter schools.

She has since clarified that statement more than once. She told The Times she was referring to everyone, including the board and district employees. Teachers who heard her statement asked if she was blaming the problem on  those teachers who came forward to complain about the current pay dispute.

On Thursday, Shamburger sent this clarification in a text:

"In continuing my request for self reflection… By law the Board must approved qualified charters.

"BUT we aren't mandated to package up and send our students to these schools. Families are voluntarily leaving our public schools. It's this very fact that we all must reflect on and determine how our actions, individually, are making families leave. We need to strengthen every neighborhood school so that it's the first and best choice for our families."

Comments
Florida education news: New candidates, school security and a suspended PTSA

Florida education news: New candidates, school security and a suspended PTSA

ELECTIONS: A former county official joins the race for a seat on Hernando County School Board, the Tampa Bay Times reports. • In Hillsborough County, one candidate for School Board changes parties and another changes races, the Tampa Bay Times ...
Published: 06/19/18
Former Hernando County official Diane Rowden joins race for School Board

Former Hernando County official Diane Rowden joins race for School Board

Longtime Hernando County resident and former official Diane Rowden threw her hat in the ring for the District 3 seat of the School Board Monday."I just feel like my job is not over with," Rowden, 68, told the Tampa Bay Times ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18
One school board candidate changes parties, another changes races

One school board candidate changes parties, another changes races

Updating Sunday's report on the Hillsborough County School Board races:Scott Hottenstein, one of six candidates for the at-large seat that will be vacated by April Griffin, informs us that he is now a Democrat.After years as a Republican, Hottenstein...
Published: 06/18/18
Florida education news: testing, safety and a gubernatorial candidate’s take on education

Florida education news: testing, safety and a gubernatorial candidate’s take on education

SAFE SCHOOLS: Miami-Dade School District asks local police departments to help put a cop on every campus, WLRN reports.TESTING: Four of Marion County’s worst-performing schools make gains on state tests, the Star-Banner reports. • Duval C...
Published: 06/18/18
Hillsborough test results point to continued struggles in reading

Hillsborough test results point to continued struggles in reading

It's not yet clear if this year's Florida Standard Assessment results will free seven Hillsborough County schools up from outside management, as Superintendent Jeff Eakins had hoped.Things improved at Potter and Booker T. Washington Elementary S...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
School test scores are up all around the state

School test scores are up all around the state

Gov. Rick Scott is doing a victory lap and touting the level of state education funding, with standardized test scores inching up around the state.The numbers released Thursday show a one-point gain in English proficiency rates on the Florida Standar...
Published: 06/14/18
Florida education news: Superintendents fired and hired, election drama and a rally for unions

Florida education news: Superintendents fired and hired, election drama and a rally for unions

OUSTED: Hernando County School Board votes 3-2 to fire Superintendent Lori Romano, the Tampa Bay Times reports.LAWSUITS: A lawyer, apparently representing Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano, threatens legal action against two School B...
Published: 06/13/18
Pinellas School Board candidate calls opponent’s district address ‘disingenuous’

Pinellas School Board candidate calls opponent’s district address ‘disingenuous’

In an email blast on Tuesday, Pinellas County School Board candidate Matt Stewart accused his opponent, Lorena Grizzle, of "misleading voters."He called Grizzle's recent change of address into question and said voters would "see it for what it i...
Published: 06/12/18
School board race gets first candidate

School board race gets first candidate

Business leader Steve Cona filed Monday to run for Hillsborough County School Board in the District 1 seat that Susan Valdes will vacate to run for the State House.He is the first to file since Valdes filed her resign-to-run letter on June 8.  A...
Published: 06/12/18
Lawyer threatens legal action against Hernando School Board members, says they violated contract with superintendent

Lawyer threatens legal action against Hernando School Board members, says they violated contract with superintendent

A lawyer, apparently representing Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano, emailed School Board members Monday night threatening legal action against two of the officials she says violated the top adminstrator's contract wit...
Published: 06/12/18