Thursday, April 19, 2018
Education

Hillsborough's Newpoint high school will close

TAMPA — A charter high school in east Hillsborough is closing its doors this summer due to low enrollment that threatened its financial stability.

The chairman of Newpoint Tampa High School informed the Hillsborough County School District last week that the school will not fight superintendent MaryEllen Elia's proposal to end the school's contract.

Newpoint could have taken its case to the School Board for a final decision, but will not.

In a series of letters earlier this year Elia expressed concerns that Newpoint appeared dependent on its management company for contributions, suggesting that without those payments, it would be insolvent.

Elia also wrote that the school's governing board was not complying with public meeting laws.

In his May 24 response, chairman Chris Bartholet acknowledged enrollment has dropped at the school, which serves grades 9 through 12 at a campus in Valrico. A district website shows this year's enrollment at 160.

Projections in 2008, when the school applied for its charter, were for 600 students in years three through five.

"In the past 12 months, we have implemented significant cost-cutting measures and multiple marketing measures which lead us to believe that over the next several years we could improve our enrollment to a point where the school would be financially viable," Bartholet wrote.

"However, based on our current enrollment and cost structure, we will not dispute the projection that the school would be in negative net asset position in the 2013-2014 school year."

Newpoint officials could not be reached for comment.

The district is working with the school to help find placements for its students, said Jenna Hodgens, supervisor of charter schools.

Charters, which have proliferated in Florida in recent years, use tax dollars but are privately run with limited oversight from the school districts.

The Newpoint group also operates schools in Pinellas County, Pensacola and Panama City.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

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