Charter Schools USA to expand
Hillsborough schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia had concerns when she learned that Charter Schools USA was proposed to run a new charter school at MacDill Air Force Base.
She's not alone in raising red flags about the Broward County firm. Pasco School Board members hesitated to approve a charter tied to Charter Schools USA this year, as well.
Despite such reservations, Charter Schools USA keeps on growing. The company, run by an ally of former governor Jeb Bush, intends to hire 1,500 new employees in the next academic year, the South Florida Business Journal reports:
"The Fort Lauderdale-based company operates 58 charter schools in seven states, including 38 in Florida. It has nearly 50,000 students, up from 20,000 three years ago, and another 17,000 kids on the waiting lists to get into its schools, said President and CEO Jonathan K. Hage, who owns 97 percent of the company.
"That demand has led to its school construction boom, with 11 schools added in the past academic year. It hired 2,300 people to staff those new schools and teach at its growing schools, Hage said.
"For the current academic year, another 12 to 15 schools are planned, Hage said. Increasingly, it is placing schools in diverse urban areas, he added.
"'We get contacted by hundreds of parents each year asking us to open charter schools for them,' Hage said. 'We think there is a lot of opportunity with urbanites who are ready for it. They want options and can't afford private school but want the benefits of private school.'"