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Winthrop Charter School to open in Riverview

RIVERVIEW — In a surge of school choices coming to Hillsborough County this fall, a new Riverview charter school will offer individualized lesson plans for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Winthrop Charter School will open on Providence Road, behind Winthrop Town Centre. Construction on the two-story building starts this month, and the application period already has opened so parents can enroll their children.

The Riverview school joins seven other new Hillsborough charter schools scheduled to open for the upcoming school year, said Jenna Hodgens, district charter supervisor.

Winthrop Charter School follows the model of its Fort Lauderdale-based management company, Charter Schools USA, which operates schools in Florida and Georgia. The company also plans another elementary school in Temple Terrace to open on a similar schedule.

"We're excited about them," Hodgens said. "We know they have great success around the state."

Hodgens said Charter Schools USA boasts a record of boosting F-rated schools in other counties to A's and B's.

Hillsborough County "is an opportunity where we can bring more school choice," said Richard Page, vice president of development at Charter Schools USA.

Charter Schools USA had worked on developing a Hillsborough charter school last fall, Page said, but it postponed its plans for a year.

With its first two schools preparing for their debut in Hillsborough County, Page said Charter Schools USA has a long-term goal of creating its own local system for kindergarten through 12th grade.

The charter model uses research from What Works in Schools, by Robert J. Marzano, to focus on personalized education. Its schools track student progress through a database accessible to parents and teachers. Class sizes vary based on needs, allowing for smaller groups to proceed at different learning paces.

Parents also are expected to be involved, Page said. They must sign a contract for volunteer hours that also are monitored by the database.

Woodmont Charter School in Temple Terrace expects enrollment to total about 1,100 students, Page said. Renovations begin this month on a building at 10402 N 56th St. in Tampa, south of the intersection of 56th Street and Fowler Avenue.

Its Riverview counterpart will be a little smaller, Page said, with enrollment at Winthrop Charter anticipated at nearly 860 students.

School construction behind the shopping area's Publix supermarket will correspond with the widening of Providence Road from two lanes to four, according to Winthrop developer John Sullivan.

Of the 30 charter schools already operating in Hillsborough County, three are in Riverview. In December, the School Board rejected a proposal from Imagine Schools, a different management company, to start another Rivervew charter school, citing concerns about the proposed governance system, curriculum and budget.

Charter schools are publicly funded but independently run. The school district provides services and training for charter schools, and it has closed charter schools in the past for poor academic performance or financial problems.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

If you go: Charter Schools USA will hold two enrollment information sessions this month for parents interested in the new Winthrop Charter School. The first starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Winthrop Barn Theatre, 11349 Bloomingdale Ave., Riverview. The second starts at 6 p.m. on March 22 at the Bridges, 11202 Dewhurst Drive, Riverview. To enroll at Winthrop Charter School, visit www.winthropcharter.org.

New Hillsborough charter schools for 2011-12

Winthrop Charter School, Winthrop Town Centre in Riverview. Operated by Charter Schools USA for grades K-8.

Woodmont Charter School, 10402 N 56th St. in Temple Terrace. Operated by Charter Schools USA for grades K-8.

Tampa Advantage Academy, no site selected. Operated by Charter School Associates Inc. for grades K-5.

Community Charter Middle School of Excellence, 10948 Central Ave. in Forest Hills. Operated by Leona Group LLC for grades 6-8.

Florida High School for Accelerated Learning — Metro Tampa Campus, at the intersection of Fowler and Nebraska Avenues in Tampa. Operated by Accelerated Learning Solutions Inc. for students at risk of dropping out in grades 9-12.

Lutz Preparatory School, no site selected. Independently operated for grades K-5.

New Springs Elementary School, no site selected. Independently operated for grades K-5.

Pivot Charter School, no site selected. Operated by Advanced Academies Inc. for grades 6-12.

Source: Hillsborough County School District

Winthrop Charter School to open in Riverview 03/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 3, 2011 3:30am]

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