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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Charter schools, too, celebrate higher grades in Hillsborough



The Hillsborough County school district made a big fuss over schools that boosted their state grades by more than one letter. Of particular note were Seminole and Bailey elementary schools, which rose from D to A grades. It was such an accomplishment that Superintendent MaryEllen Elia chose Bailey as the site for her back-to-school news conference on Friday.

But they weren't the only ones.

Gradebook heard this week from the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, an Immokalee-based organization that operates two charter schools in Hillsborough County.

RCMA Wimauma Academy jumped from a D to an A this year. And the newer middle school, RCMA Leadership Academy, rose from a C to an A.

"The achievements of RCMA Wimauma Academy may be more noteworthy than either Seminole or Bailey," said Bill Coats, the organization's spokesman and a onetime reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. "Our school is 100 percent Hispanic, dominated by the children of low-income farmworkers; 94 percent qualify for free or reduced lunches. Nearly all speak English as a second language. These kids are overcoming myriad disadvantages to excel."

Combined, the two schools served 274 students last year, according to state records.

Founded in 1965 by volunteers of the Mennonite Church, RCMA was organized to provide quality child care in southern Miami-Dade County while parents worked in the fields. Since then it has grown to serve approximately 7,000 children in more than 70 child care centers and schools.

[Last modified: Monday, August 18, 2014 4:24pm]


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