Now that's one successful charter school
All too often, the mainstream media focus on the negative when dealing with charter schools. You hear about the ones where students can't read, or where money has disappeared along with the bookkeeper. To counter the notion that the only news about charters is bad, the Gradebook stops today to recognize Academy at the Farm, a K-8 school in eastern Pasco County that has been highlighted by the Center for Education Reform as one of the nation's 53 best charter schools. (That's out of about 3,940 across the country, by the way.)
What made the 5-year-old school, which focuses on horticulture and the environment, stand out? It rated among Florida's top 100 elementary schools for improvement on the FCAT writing exam, for one, and it actually made adequate yearly progress among all student groups in a county where only one other school could claim the same. About 23 percent of the students are classified as economically disadvantaged and a similar amount have disabilities of one sort or another.
Folks at the school are "ecstatic" - so much so that director Michael Rom and seven founding teachers skipped a School Board meeting where the school's expansion was up for a vote, in order to get to Washington D.C. for a celebration today. "The Center for Education Reform ... actually paid for one person to go," head middle school teacher Tami Flournory said. "But our director didn't feel like it was his award only." The recognition might bring Academy at the Farm more attention and more applicants. But they'll have to wait along with others who already know about it. "We do have a waiting list of about 175 kids," Flournory said. "And we are just bursting at the seams."