Pinellas approves three charter school applications
The Pinellas County School Board approved three new charter school applications today, but not without some discussion about the need for all three. One application is for a second Mavericks high school. The other two are for new K-8 Plato Academy schools.
The board must still approve charters for all three before they can become reality. If they do, Mavericks will join a growing number of Pinellas charters that cater to at-risk high school students, including two Life Skills charter schools (one each in St. Petersburg and Clearwater) and the Florida High School for Accelerated Learning - Pinellas County Campus Inc.
"My concern is taxpayer dollars are going to these schools ... and I have yet to see the efficacy or any data that tells me how many students are graduating with diplomas," said board member Janet Clark. "I'm hesitant to keep approving these charters if we don't know that they're doing what they say they're doign."
Steve Swartzel, the district's director of government operations, said staff is in the process of gathering data for the two Life Skills charters, which have been around for several years and have a track record that can be analyzed. The first Mavericks charter opened this fall, and the Accelerated Learning school is scheduled to open next year.
Clark also asked how much demand there was for the Plato Academy, where the academic focus is in part on Greek as a second language. Plato officials said the Clearwater school has 350 students on a waiting list. They want a second campus even further north in Pinellas and a third in south Pinellas.