Saturday, June 23, 2018
Education

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Eighty-seven students have withdrawn from the St. Petersburg University Prep in its first two months, while several teachers and the curriculum director resigned.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 [email protected] You can also follow her on Twitter (@lisagartner).

Comments
First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic."We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as they prepared...
Published: 06/23/18
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

DADE CITY —Just a few weeks into summer vacation, Pasco Middle School student Jade Neal, 14, was back at school, delving into a challenging STEM activity on force in motion, as the theme to Mission Impossible played in the background.The assignment? ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18