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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

MacDill charter group is not going quietly



This, from Charter Schools USA, in response to a staff decision in Hillsborough County to deny a charter for a school at MacDill. The School Board votes at a 9 a.m. meeting but, unless history reverses itself, it will uphold the staff recommendation. The author is Ken Haiko, chairman of the Florida Charter Educational Foundation.

“Clearly Hillsborough County district staff is not interested in helping military families at MacDill Air Force Base by providing a charter school option for students on base. The concerns provided in our meeting and the documents posted online are ludicrous and demonstrate the district’s weak arguments against the charter. They outlined three different areas of concern:

a. “Model doesn’t address needs of military students” With this argument, the whole point of having a charter school on base is lost.  Military students don’t need a different curriculum, they need a different culture.   Having a charter school onsite, primarily serving military families, will create a far better culture than having these students scattered all over the district.  The charter model provides flexibility for us to expand parental involvement and customize extra-curricular and co-curricular programs in ways a traditional district school simply cannot accomplish.

b.  “Governance structure legal status” - Our application is clear that Florida Charter Educational Foundation is the applicant and charter holder.  This Foundation, along with its education service provider, currently is approved and operating the Henderson Hammock Charter School here in Hillsborough County.  There is no question of its legal status. We added an additional advisory component to support the Foundation and cater to the unique aspects of having a charter school on a military base.  That should be viewed as an added benefit, not a negative. In fact, the same governance structure that is being objected to by the Hillsborough School District is the exact same structure used in several schools managed by Charter Schools USA. 

c.  “Grade of an existing CSUSA school in Hillsborough” – There is absolutely no basis to this argument. Currently Hillsborough County is running several schools that have received an “F” grade this year. Would that preempt them from being able to run a school on base? Obviously, the student body being served by the school in question is serving a very high-risk population and cannot be compared at all to the students at the AFB. Charter Schools USA has an excellent reputation for providing high-performing, results-driven schools and bringing educational advantages to more than 50,000 students in 58 schools in seven states.

As we wait for the school board’s vote tomorrow, we’d like to make it clear that the Florida Educational Foundation is not willing to give up on the needs of military families at MacDill AFB. We have never backed down from a challenge and don’t intend to leave these families with no options.” 

Haiko's organization can appeal to the state.

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 6:51am]


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