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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas to talk charter schools



Three Pinellas charter schools and one would-be charter have been singled out for a discussion at the Pinellas School Board workshop on Tuesday.

Dot Clark, the Pinellas administrator who oversees charter school applications, "will provide a status report of select charter schools in the district." They are: Imagine Middle, Gulfcoast, Pinellas Academy of Math and Science and University Prep.

Agenda documents also indicate that Clark will discuss charter high school graduation rates.

Why these schools? Pinellas officials are off for spring break, so no concrete answers until next week. But there are some things we can glean.

Imagine is a standalone middle school program for the first time this school year, its elementary grades shuttered because of students' chronically low performance. Still, the middle school earned an F last year.

Pinellas Academy of Math and Science is a new addition to the charter scene, having opened its doors in the 2012-13 school year. In its inaugural year, the Academy earned a C grade; while not ideal, it's also not uncommon for brand-new schools to open wto D or F grades as they get things in order.

University Prep is even newer - this year is its first - but has already been scrutinized by the district over parent complaints and unauthorized school buses. Its founder, Cheri Shannon, has told the Gradebook that she expects University Prep to earn an F in its first year because of the challenges its students bring to the school.

Gulfcoast withdrew its application to open a charter school on the barrier islands after Pinellas announced plans to reopen Gulf Beaches Elementary as a technology magnet school this fall.

Pinellas charter high schools tend to have lower graduation rates than the traditional schools because they take on challenging students who need an alternative from the system. Gulf Coast Academy, for instance, graduated 7 percent of students last spring. New Start High School had a graduation rate of 10 percent.

[Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 11:07am]


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