Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Troubled Pinellas charter school plans a second location in Tampa

A new charter school beleaguered by problems in St. Petersburg is planning to negotiate a contract to replicate the school in Tampa, its founder says.

Cheri Shannon, who also is the temporary principal of University Preparatory Academy, said in an interview this week it was important to get the Pinellas school running smoothly. But "sometimes that takes three to five years."

She said of the school's governing board: "I don't know if they're going to wait that long" to open in Tampa.

If approved, current plans call for the Tampa school to open next fall.

Jenna Hodgens, director of charters for Hillsborough County schools, said the School Board would need to consider the issues that have troubled University Prep.

Eighty-seven students have withdrawn from the St. Petersburg University Prep in its first two months, while several teachers and the curriculum director resigned. The school also ran afoul of Pinellas when it used unauthorized school buses to transport students to and from school. One of the buses crashed, injuring three students.

Although detailed in University Prep's contract with Pinellas, a local advisory board of parents and community members has not yet been created. Applications were sent out Friday, two months into the school year.

Shannon unexpectedly became University Prep's principal amid a severe time-crunch to get the school running. Doug Tuthill, the president of Step Up For Students and a key person in connecting Shannon with Pinellas, says she is working "80-hour weeks." The school expects to hire a replacement principal this semester.

Shannon has described these issues as typical for new charter schools. However, none of the four charters that opened in Pinellas in 2012 saw such high withdrawal rates.

In Tampa, University Prep is eyeing the area from Florida Avenue in downtown up toward Sulphur Springs. Shannon said finding a building for the school will be the biggest challenge. Unlike Pinellas, Hillsborough does not have any surplus school buildings.

Shannon also has applications approved in Broward and Palm Beach counties, although it's unclear if and when those schools would open. "You can always negotiate a contract or start through that process" and then walk away, she said.

The final decision on whether to pursue a Hillsborough opening in fall 2014 will be made by the school's governing board, which meets Oct. 30.

Hodgens said her department was aware of University Prep's problems in St. Petersburg, except for the busing issue. "That would definitely be something on my radar," she said. "We wouldn't want that to happen here." She expected University Prep's other challenges to come up during School Board discussions. A local board is an especially high priority, Hodgens said.

"We may put in some safeguards so what happened there doesn't happen here."

Contact Lisa Gartner at lgartner@tampabay.com. You can also follow her on Twitter (@lisagartner).

Troubled Pinellas charter school plans a second location in Tampa 10/22/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often

    Bucs

    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  2. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game

    Crime

    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.
  3. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005

    Bucs

    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  4. Crash at U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park kills one, shuts down traffic

    Accidents

    PINELLAS PARK — A man is dead after a crash between two cars at the intersection of U.S. Highway 19 and 70th Avenue N just after 7 a.m. Saturday.

    Pinellas Park police are investigating the death of a man during a crash on U.S. 19 early Saturday. (Pinellas Park police)
  5. Tropics watch: The latest on Harvey and what systems could hit Florida

    Weather

    While Eastern and Central America monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Harvey, two tropical disturbances are moving through the Atlantic.