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Newpoint Pinellas High now Pinellas Westcoast Academy High School for at least one more year



Looking to move on from a troubled past, Newpoint Pinellas High has one year to prove itself viable as Pinellas Westcoast Academy High School.

The Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday unanimously voted to grant the Clearwater charter high school a one-year renewal of its charter with the county and a name change. The school's board members sought a name change to distance the school from its former management company, Newpoint Education Partners. That company was indicted last month by an Escambia County grand jury accused of fraudulently billing schools for supplies, equipment and services with federal start-up grant funds for charter schools and laundering that money.

The school blames Newpoint for the circumstances that led to a one-year renewal instead of a typical three- to five-year renewal, mainly the school's "deteriorating financial condition." The school's $468,057 deficit triggered the school to work with the district to develop a "corrective action plan" to send to the Florida Department of Education.

The district's charter school director, Rick Wolfe, explained at the board meeting that Newpoint Pinellas High has a different board than three other Pinellas charter schools formerly operated by Newpoint: Windsor Preparatory Academy and East Windsor Middle Academy in St. Petersburg, and Newpoint Pinellas Academy, a middle school that shares the same strip mall site as Newpoint Pinellas High.

"This school is in a very different situation," Wolfe told board members, referring to the financial, governance, curriculum and exceptional student education services that led to issuing 90-day termination notices to the three other schools last month. "They do not have the issues that exist in the other schools."They identified and responded to the financial issues much sooner and much more effectively than the other schools...They do not have the issues that exist in the other schools." 

The board overseeing Windsor Prep and East Windsor have agreed to voluntarily terminate their charters to become a district-run magnet school "project-based learning lab environment." This leaves Newpoint Pinellas Academy in limbo, however district officials say financial concerns still dog the school.

The two boards have agreed to transfer the academy over to Newpoint Pinellas High's board so the school can serve as a feeder into the high school. The high school, which enrolled 97 students in the 2015-16 school year, has historically suffered from low enrollment. The school received $342,890 in public funding last year.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 8:12pm]


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