Sunday, July 15, 2018
Education

Can two low-performing charter schools improve? Hillsborough to hear their plans today

TAMPA — Two charter school operators will appear Tuesday before the Hillsborough County School Board, defending their low state grades and presenting their plans for improvement.

One, Woodmont Charter, is part of the large Charter Schools USA group, which now operates five schools in Hillsborough County. While others in the group benefit from suburban populations and have long waiting lists, Woodmont, in Temple Terrace, serves a largely low-income community and has struggled over the years.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Another charter school competes in Hillsborough, with artificial turf, plenty of computers and a waiting list

Woodmont's D grade for 2017 was its third in a row. The school had a C in 2014, up from an F the year before. The latest enrollment statistics posted by the district show the school has 683 students.

Community Charter School of Excellence, the other school up for review, is in the University of South Florida area with 209 students, according to the district list.

This isn't the first such presentation for Community Charter School; an earlier one took place in 2014, after the school earned two D's and an F. On that day, school leaders said their teachers did not yet have the skills they needed to teach to the rigorous new Florida Standards.

Another F followed in 2015. The school's contract with the district was renewed for just one year, after which the school earned a C and came through a district inspection with mostly favorable marks. Based on that 2016 inspection, the School Board granted Community Charter a five-year renewal in July. It now has a D.

THE GRADEBOOK: All education, all the time

Presentations such as these are routine and required by state law. They represent an increasingly infrequent opportunity for the elected board to exert oversight over these publicly funded, yet independently managed schools, which are attracting a growing percentage of public school students.

The district reports — which are preliminary and subject to change — show charter school enrollment grew by 16 percent, or 3,290 students. The total charter enrollment of 21,173 accounts for about 10 percent of all students, up from 8.5 percent in the last school year.

The session begins at 2 p.m. This report will be updated.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol

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