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Charter school in Riverview will not open

RIVERVIEW — A new charter school that would have served at least 230 students will not open this fall as planned, Hillsborough school officials said Wednesday.

The startup bid by Imagine Schools, a national charter school provider, was blocked after the company was unable to build a facility near U.S. 301 and Big Bend Road in time for the start of classes, said district supervisor Jenna Hodgens.

"They said it was due to the state of the economy, that people were just not loaning money," she said. "That's why they backed out."

The Riverview school was granted a charter by the Hillsborough School Board to open this past fall, but was given a one-year extension. Next week the board is scheduled to formally revoke that charter.

An Imagine Schools official said the company hopes to file a new application to open a school in Riverview in 2010.

"It has nothing to do with Imagine's financial (situation)," said school developer Kathy Helean. "It has more to do with the economy and banks and that things are tight."

She said a company subsidiary, Schoolhouse Finance L.L.C., typically leases buildings that are constructed to Imagine specifications. But the company's developer found those terms unappealing in the current climate.

Charter schools use public funding and must follow state and federal education standards, but have more leeway than regular public schools to develop their own programs. By fall Hillsborough will oversee 33 such schools serving nearly 7,000 students.

Charter school in Riverview will not open 04/29/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 11:08pm]
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