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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas approves another charter school for at-risk students



Charter schools in Pinellas are increasingly taking on the district's most at-risk high school students.

Without discussion, the Pinellas school board voted unanimously today to approve the charter for the Florida High School for Accelerated Learning - Pinellas County Campus Inc.

The school is slated to open in Kenneth City next fall, and will serve at-risk students in grades 7-12. That makes it the fourth charter school to serve struggling high school students in Pinellas, with applications for at least two more headed for a board vote next month.

Already open: the Life Skills charter schools in St. Petersburg and Clearwater and the new Mavericks High charter school in Largo. On the table: A second Mavericks High for south Pinellas and the Richard Milburn Academy, which operates five charter schools in Florida but closed down another one after problems in Pasco.

"I think these organizations, including us, are looking at a way to serve these communities because there's such a huge need," Robert Essink, president of Accelerated Learning Solutions, which is managing the new Pinellas charter, told The Gradebook. "There are kids who want a non-traditional option."

The new school's approach is big on flexible scheduling, a self-set pace and technology. ALS's parent company is Community Education Partners, the Tennessee-based company that ran the Oak Park alternative school in Pinellas Park until waylaid by budget cuts. ALS has eight other Florida schools up and running.

The new school aims to serve 300 students next year and 600 students by year five. This year will be a planning year. To see its contract with the board, go to p. 282 of today's school board agenda.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:37am]


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