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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Grego outlines proposal to take over alternative charter

Superintendent Mike Grego provided more details this week about plans to take over an alternative charter high school in Largo that is set to close. 

Gulf Coast Academy, which has about 350 students, would continue to focus on students at risk of dropping out of school. To provide students with flexibility, the school would offer three sessions a day, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. If needed, students could change from one session to another to accommodate scheduling issues. 

Rita Vasquez, the district's executive director of high school education, told the School Board Tuesday that the traditional school setting wasn't working for students. The school's target student is typically older - because of being retained in earlier grades - and often has a low grade-point average and poor attendance. To get students to graduation, the school will likely emphasize the 18-credit diploma option, though students could choose to purse the 24-credit option, she said.

And to encourage students to show up, Vasquez said the school would offer "obvious hooks" in digital music and digital art. Further details about what that would mean weren't available Tuesday.

Gulf Coast Academy previously operated as Mavericks, but its local board cut ties with the management company and changed the school's name after Pinellas school officials discovered in 2012 that the charter had serious academic deficiencies. The management company had changed to a curriculum that didn't meet state standards and was encouraging teachers to change grades and reduce assignments based on their judgment instead of actual course completion. 

The local board informed the school district that it would close the school in June, opening the door for Grego's plan to take it over. The school's graduation rate last spring was 7 percent. Grego said the school district could do a better job.

William Corbett, the district's deputy superintendent, told the School Board Tuesday that it should cost about $50,000 to make some changes to the school's existing site. Those costs will be built into the lease, he said, the cost of which has been reduced from what the local board paid. The total cost to run the school in the 2014/15 school year is estimated at $2.2 million. That includes about $156,000 rent. 

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 10:42am]


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