Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas to take over alternative charter school

The Pinellas County school system is poised to take over an alternative charter high school, with a mission to steer struggling students to graduation.

Gulf Coast Academy in Largo will close its doors in early June. It's expected to reopen as a Pinellas County public school in August.

District officials told the School Board this month that the mission remains the same: Help at-risk students earn a high school diploma. But Pinellas County hopes to do a better job — Gulf Coast Academy's graduation rate last spring was 7 percent.

Rita Vasquez, the district's head of high school education, said most students at the school already are behind academically, have low grade-point averages, have poor attendance records and are older than their peers because of previous retentions. The school's "traditional learning environment" hasn't met their needs, she said.

About 350 students are enrolled.

To help students succeed, Gulf Coast Academy will offer flexibility, with three sessions per day, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. If needed, students could change from one session to another to accommodate schedules.

The school also will focus on an accelerated diploma option, requiring 18 credits to graduate. Students still could opt for the 24-credit option, she said. District officials also plan to add "obvious hooks," such as digital music and digital art, she said. Details still are being worked out.

Gulf Coast Academy previously operated as Mavericks in Education, but its local board cut ties with the management company and changed the school's name after Pinellas school officials discovered in 2012 that the charter had serious academic deficiencies. The management company had changed to a curriculum that didn't meet state standards and was encouraging teachers to change grades and reduce assignments based on their judgment instead of actual course completion.

The local board informed the district it would close the school in June, opening the door for superintendent Mike Grego's plan to take over. For students, there should be little break in their academic stride as the transition occurs. Students who would have taken courses during the summer months should be able to participate in the school district's summer programs.

William Corbett, the district's deputy superintendent, said it should cost about $50,000 to make some changes to the school's existing site. Those costs will be built into the lease, he said, the cost of which has been reduced from what the local board paid. The total cost to run the school in the 2014-15 school year is estimated at $2.2 million, with about $156,000 rent.

The reopening is slated for Aug. 18. District officials haven't decided yet whether to keep the school's name.

Cara Fitzpatrick can be reached at cfitzpatrick@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8846. Follow her on Twitter @Fitz_ly.

Pinellas to take over alternative charter school 05/22/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A total of 367 men and women reside on death row at Florida State Prison and Union Correctional Institution, down from 383 at the start of this year. [AP photo (1989)]
  2. Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, right, host MSNBC's "Morning Joe" at NBC Studios in New York on April 14, 2010. President Donald Trump on Thursday assailed Brzezinski in unusually personal and vulgar terms, the latest of a string of escalating attacks by the president on the national news media.
  3. Goliath grouper are anything but gentle giants for Florida fishermen

    Wildlife

    Goliath, the biblical giant, wasn't known for bothering fishermen. But the gigantic fish named after him — they can weigh up to 800-pounds — is notorious for exactly that.

    Biologists take samples from a goliath grouper that was caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The fish was released back into the gulf. Florida fishermen have petitioned the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to allow them to catch the up to 800-pound fish for a limited time. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  4. Volkov hopes to prove his surprise selection right

    Blogs

    RW Alexander Volkov was not a particularly talked-about player in the lead up to the NHL entry draft.

  5. A stunt turns deadly for a couple seeking YouTube fame (w/video)

    Human Interest

    Over the past several weeks, Monalisa Perez of Halstad, Minnesota, and her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, began their quest for YouTube fame by creating and posting videos of mostly harmless pranks: Ruiz climbing onto a tenuous tree branch and falling a short distance, or Perez feeding him a doughnut covered in baby powder …

    Over the past several weeks, Monalisa Perez of Halstad, Minnesota, and her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz III, began their quest for YouTube fame by creating and posting videos of mostly harmless pranks. On June 26, 2017, authorities say, Perez, 19, shot at a thick book that Ruiz, 22, was holding, apparently believing that the bullet would not make it through the volume. The bullet entered Ruiz's chest and he died at the scene. [Photo from video]