New charter school company arrives in Hillsborough
TAMPA -- Move over Imagine Schools; there's a new charter school outfit in town.
Fort Lauderdale-based Charter Schools USA is opening its first school in Hillsborough County in August on W Linebaugh Avenue, and will be accepting applications between March 1 and April 30 in grades K-7. The company says it runs 20 schools and plans to open 20 more within the next three years.
Charter management companies have been much in the news lately. For better or worse, they seem poised to grow as the federal government pushes states to remove limits on charter schools, which use public money but enjoy wide latitude in developing their own policies and programs.
Some see charter management organizations as a way to leverage cutting-edge school reforms into under-served communities. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $60 million to five Los Angeles CMOs as part of its $335 million Empowering Effective Teachers grant program.
On the downside, the Hillsborough County School Board in December turned down an application by Virginia-based Imagine Schools to open a school here, after voicing doubts about the applicant's nonprofit status. And Charter Schools USA has already become entangled in a similar debate in Georgia, after one of its charters was approved by a "foreign nonprofit corporation formed under the laws of Florida."