Charter schools projected to grow in Pinellas
Charter schools in Pinellas County are expected to add about 1,400 students in the coming school year.
District officials are projecting that charters will enroll 6,445 students in the 2013/14 school year, up from 5,047 this past year. Part of the increase comes from the anticipated opening of new charter schools, including University Preparatory Academy, Newpoint Pinellas Academy and Plato St. Petersburg.
Of those, University Prep is the largest, with more than 500 students expected.
The projection follows the trend in recent years of a steady decline in enrollment in the traditional public schools, while charters in Pinellas grow. It's also despite the closure of some charters, including Imagine Charter School St. Petersburg. (Imagine still has its middle school open.)
Pinellas has had years of decline, starting about 10 years ago.
District officials approved expansions for several charters, too, including 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.
The school district doesn't have much latitude, by law, to turn away a charter (if their academic and financial plans are sound) or to decline a proposed expansion of a high-performing charter. Charters that are denied also can appeal to the state.