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Charter expansions could cost Pinellas Schools nearly $6 million

8

April

Several charter schools in Pinellas County want to increase student enrollment in the coming school year – which could cost the public school system nearly $6 million.

That could be bad news for Pinellas County Schools.

The district has had declining enrollment for years now, with numbers dipping to 101,494 this year. That’s a loss of more than 12,000 students since 2003. Many of the charter schools that are flourishing are located in areas with struggling public schools.

The charters requesting expansion include: Academie Da Vinci Charter of the Arts in Dunedin; Pinellas Preparatory Academy Charter in Largo; Pinellas Primary Academy Charter in Largo; and St. Petersburg College Collegiate High School.

A new charter school also could be approved (contingent on the sale of Southside Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg). University Preparatory Academy Charter wants to enroll 564 students in kindergarten to eighth grade in the 2013/14 school year.

Pinellas Prep and Pinellas Primary are on the same campus and have the same governing board. Pinellas Primary also has asked to change its grades to K-3 rather than K-4. Both schools had been serving fourth graders, but school officials found that the arrangement confused parents, according to district documents. Pinellas Primary reported a waiting list this year.

The School Board will consider the charter requests at its meeting Tuesday. Board members don’t have much latitude when considering the requests.

Florida lawmakers have given high-performing charter schools greater ability to expand. By law, a high-performing charter can increase enrollment by 15 percent each year. High-performing is defined as a school that receives two A grades and no grade below a B during each of the three previous years AND had a good financial audit in the same period. (Lawmakers also are looking at this issue again during the current session.)

Here are the proposed enrollment increases:

Academie Da Vinci: To 250 from 238 (at a cost of $74,363 to the public school system)

Pinellas Preparatory Academy Charter: To 506 from 440 ($340,341)

Pinellas Primary: To 350 from 246 ($2.2 million)

St. Petersburg College Collegiate High: To 230 from 200 ($157,701)

University Prep: Brand new, with enrollment up to 564 ($3.2 million)

[Last modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 11:22am]

    

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