Pinellas recommends first Montessori charter school
Pinellas County could get its first Montessori charter school in the 2014/15 school year.
District officials have recommended approval of a charter for Academy by the Sea, a proposed Montessori charter that would serve grades four to eight. The school seeks to provide an option for parents whose children attend private Montessori schools in the area, such as Alegria Montessori and Montessori By the Sea, as well as Gulfport Elementary, which has a magnet Montessori program.
The school district doesn't have a Montessori option in middle school. Parents at Gulfport Elementary asked the School Board this month to consider creating a new feeder pattern for their students to a middle school. They didn't specifically ask for a Montessori program, however.
Academy By the Sea would serve a small number of students, starting with 154 and maxing out at 176. It doesn't have a location yet, but would look to open in the beach communities, such as St. Pete Beach, Madeira Beach and Treasure Island.
The School Board will consider approving the charter at its meeting Tuesday. Last month, board members turned down another proposed Montessori charter, Palm Harbor Montessori, after district officials recommended they reject the application. They cited concerns about finances and how the school would align with the new Common Core State Standards.
Montessori education is based on the teachings of Maria Montessori. It stresses a child-centered approach, emphasizing exploration, independence, beauty and harmony. Students typically are in multi-age classrooms.