Charter school in Temple Terrace one of eight to open in Hillsborough

TEMPLE TERRACE — A new Temple Terrace charter school offering individualized lesson plans will join the surge of eight charter schools coming to Hillsborough County this fall.

Applications for the 2011-2012 academic year have opened for parents to enroll their children at the Woodmont Charter School, a K-8 elementary school.

Woodmont, at 10402 N 56th St., follows the model of its Fort Lauderdale-based management company Charter Schools USA, which operates schools in Florida and Georgia. The company also plans another elementary school in Riverview.

"We're excited about them," said Jenna Hodgens, charter supervisor for Hillsborough Schools. "We know they have great success around the state."

Hodgens said Charter Schools USA boasts a record of boosting F-rated schools in other counties to A's and B's.

Hillsborough County "is an opportunity where we can bring more school choice," said Richard Page, vice president of development at Charter Schools USA. The company looks for areas where there's a need, he said.

With its first two schools opening in Hillsborough County, Charter Schools USA has a long-term goal of creating its own local system for kindergarten through 12th grade, Page said.

The charter model uses research from the book What Works in Schools by Robert J. Marzano, to focus on personalized education. Its schools track each student's progress through a database accessible to parents and teachers, Page said, making it easy to see where a student struggles or how a student advances toward goals and school standards. Differentiated instruction throughout the day can cause class size to vary, he said, from larger science lab classes to smaller remedial math sections if students are learning at slower paces.

Parents are also expected to be involved, Page said. They sign a contract for volunteer hours that are also monitored by the database.

Renovations begin this month on a building near the intersection of 56th Street and Serena Drive, south of Fowler. Woodmont hopes to eventually reach a goal capacity of 1,100, Page said.

In Riverview, Charter Schools USA starts construction this month on a two-story school behind the Winthrop Town Centre at Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence Road. Winthrop Charter School will be able to accommodate about 860 students, Page said.

The company had worked on developing a Hillsborough charter school last fall, Page said, but postponed its plans for a year.

Thirty charter schools currently operate in Hillsborough County, publicly funded but independently run. The school district provides services and training for charter schools, and it has shuttered charter schools in the past for poor academic performance or financial problems.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

.fast facts

Woodmont

Charter School

Charter Schools USA will hold two enrollment information sessions this month for parents interested in Woodmont. Sessions start at 6 p.m. Monday and March 21 at Copeland Park, 11001 N 15th St. in Tampa. To enroll, go to woodmont

charter.org.

Charter school in Temple Terrace one of eight to open in Hillsborough 03/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 3:30am]

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