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Imagine School at St. Petersburg is put on probation

ST. PETERSBURG — After notching its second F in a row this year, Imagine School is headed for district-imposed probation. But whether something more drastic is in store remains to be seen.

Asked if the school may be shut down, Dot Clark, who oversees the district's charter schools, said "district leadership is still reviewing that possibility."

Imagine, which opened in the fall of 2008, was in hot water before the latest round of school grades. It earned an F last year. And it has been under intense scrutiny for financial problems.

The school planned and budgeted for 514 students in grades K-5. But enrollment slipped last year from 376 to 320, and the district said in May that Imagine needed 590 this fall to remain viable. Imagine officials did not return requests for comment.

Clark said the school will be notified in writing of its probationary status within the next two weeks.

The latest FCAT scores show that the school missed a D by one point. It saw big improvements in the numbers of students making learning gains in math, but a significant drop in reading and writing scores and a free fall in science scores.

By state statute, the school must take one of several corrective actions when it's put on probation. Imagine hired a new principal, Angela Prince, in June. And in a note to parents that she posted on the school website last week, Prince wrote, "Imagine School at St. Petersburg is here to stay."

She also wrote: "Please know we are headed in a new direction for the school year and have made numerous changes to ensure that our grade does not remain at this level. While our school may reflect a grade of F, the majority of the students at Imagine showed learning gains of one year's growth. This is phenomenal!"

Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

Imagine School at St. Petersburg is put on probation 08/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 27, 2010 1:11pm]
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