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Ouch! Rejected charter school applicants get an earful in Hillsborough



TAMPA -- Last month we told you about the seven charter school applicants being recommended for approval in Hillsborough County, and the four applicants up for rejection.

In the agenda for Tuesday's School Board meeting, we find out why.

What's particularly compelling -- or perhaps scathing -- is the list of reasons why a staff committee recommended denying those four applications. For those hoping to open a charter school in Hillsborough, joining the 30 already operating in the county, consider it a tutorial on how one district interprets state law.

What follows are a small handful of the reasons that were cited in shooting down each application. To see the full litany, click on the applicant's name, or see the agenda to read about the schools up for approval.

Franklin Academy A and B
* "The enrollment projections are unrealistic based on historical charter school enrollment data in Hillsborough County."
* "Although the application provides research for the use of single-gender classrooms, there are no innovative instructional methods specific to single-gender classes."
* "The application lacks a viable and adequate staffing plan to support the program being proposed."

Einstein Montessori School
* "The plan lacks legally sound policies for student discipline, suspension, dismissal and recommendations for expulsion."
* "A compensation plan for teachers is not evident in the application."
* "Food service costs are not evident in the budget."

Spectrum Education Academy
* "The academic education plan is not clear and coherent. It focuses on social skills rather than core academics."
* "The daily schedule submitted in the application provides only 45 minutes of academic instruction."
* "The application does not include a founding board...(and) is not set up as a not-for-profit. There is no documentation of the proper legal structure of the governing board."

Hillsborough regards itself as being a relatively friendly district for charter schools, but in recent years officials have followed the federal government's lead in taking a harder line on those that struggle academically or financially. And last year it threw down the gauntlet on the sticky question of charter school governance; the district rejected an application by Virginia-based Imagine Schools, saying the proposed local governing board didn't meet the legal requirement for nonprofit status or independence from its management company.

All of these recommendations must be approved by the School Board, which takes up the matter at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the board
meeting room at 901 East Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 2:04pm]


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