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Two Pasco County charter schools on short leash with district officials

Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning

Times (2016)

Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning

3

October

One Pasco County charter school faces the threat of closure, and another of losing its funding stream, district superintendent Kurt Browning told his School Board on Tuesday.

The first, Florida Virtual Academy at Pasco, came under scrutiny at the board's regularly scheduled meeting during a discussion of its annual performance review. Board vice chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong noted that the charter -- not to be confused with Florida Virtual School -- had significant financial deficiencies, and did not provide adequate details to the district as required.

The school also did not submit its state-required charter school accountability report on time, raising additional red flags for Armstrong.

She said she wanted to make sure Florida Virtual Academy, which the board has warily watched since its unwelcome arrival in the district, at the very least meets its contractual obligations.

Superintendent Kurt Browning said he would give the charter school the chance to improve its performance and compliance. But the group, which has already been shut down Hillsborough County and threatened in Pinellas County, would be put on notice, he said.

"We are going to send a letter to them ... giving them a deadline," Browning told the board. "Failure to comply will result in a letter from the superintendent recommending they be shut down."

Florida Virtual Academy is in the final year of its contract with the district.

Browning continued to talk about another charter school, Pasco MYcroSchool, that also is on his watch list.

The school anticipated opening with 250 students, but began the year with a dozen. As of Spet. 20, its enrollment was up to 30 -- "A little short," as board member Alison Crumbley put it.

In the first two months of the fiscal year, the district sent MYcroSchool a quarter-million dollars in funding, based on the 250-student estimate. The amount is "far in excess" of what they should have received for 30 children, Browning said.

"They owe us money back," he told the board.

The question is how to pursue it. The district staff is considering whether to allow the school some time, to see if more students arrive, or to demand repayment now. The latter move would likely drive the school to close.

The district meanwhile has stopped forwarding any more money to MYcroSchool, and refused to give the school startup grant revenue, which also was awarded for a much larger student body.

Board attorney Dennis Alfonso told the board the district's actions were allowed, both in state law and as spelled out in its contract with the charter. Browning did not say how quickly he anticipated next steps to occur.

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 1:31pm]

    

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