Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Turn Gulf Beaches Elementary into charter school?

ST. PETE BEACH — City officials here are determined to keep Gulf Beaches Elementary School open.

"Gulf Beaches is the only school on the barrier island," says Commissioner Linda Chaney. "If the school is closed, our children face an hourlong ride over three drawbridges. That's a long day for small children and is clearly detrimental to our community."

Despite the Pinellas County School Board's decision Tuesday to close the school, she said the commission hopes it can be converted to a charter school.

They hope enough residents, particularly those with school-age children, feel the same way.

In an attempt to generate that support, the commission has scheduled an open house for Jan. 28 at the Community Center, at 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, and invited representatives of Imagine School at St. Petersburg to describe their charter school program.

Arlington, Va.-based Imagine Schools operates 18 charter schools in Florida, including the one in St. Petersburg, and another 56 throughout the country.

The program specializes in the arts and science, environment, single gender, Chinese language, careers, International Baccalaureate and an elementary program called Project Child.

In Project Child, clusters of students and teachers work together for three years so that students can stay with the same teacher to better meet their needs and maximize teaching time.

Chaney said that enough families must want the charter school before the organization would be willing to approach the School Board for approval.

"If the parents aren't interested, there is no reason to talk to the School Board," Chaney said.

Charter schools are essentially free schools open to the public but operated by private organizations. The school system loses state per-child money for those students enrolled. That money is given to the charter school operator.

Chaney acknowledges that the Pinellas County school system is unlikely to want Gulf Beaches to become a charter school because the reason for closing it is to save money.

Gulf Beaches is one of seven small schools the School Board decided to close in an attempt to plug a budget deficit that is approaching $40-million and could surged to the $60- to $80-million range.

Chaney said the school system must be willing to lease the Gulf Beaches building at a "reasonable rate" for the charter program to be economically viable.

She is concerned that because Gulf Beaches Elementary is on "valuable property" on Blind Pass Road it might be sold to generate revenue for the school system.

The land the school sits on was donated to the school system years ago. The original deed restricts its use to the surrounding neighborhood. Chaney questioned whether the property could be sold or if it would revert to the original property owners if it is no longer used for a school.

In a written opinion, the School Board attorney has said the property belongs to the school system.

"The county school system considers the property theirs and views it as an asset," Chaney said.

Turn Gulf Beaches Elementary into charter school? 01/17/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 17, 2009 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here

    The Heater


    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, they better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher they can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  2. Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz keep paying tech expert suspected of stealing House computers?


    The following is from the Miami Herald:

  3. GOP senators blink on a big chance to repeal 'Obamacare'


    WASHINGTON — After seven years of emphatic campaign promises, Senate Republicans demonstrated Wednesday they don't have the stomach to repeal "Obamacare" when it really counts, as the Senate voted 55-45 to reject legislation undoing major portions of Barack Obama's law without replacing it.

    U.S. Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) talks with reporters as he walks to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in Washington, DC. [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]
  4. Rick Baker's debate answer revives painful St. Pete controversy


    ST. PETERSBURG — Former Mayor Bill Foster fired one of his top administrators, Goliath Davis III, six years ago for disobeying an order to attend the funeral of a slain police officer.

    St. Petersburg police officers stand by two caskets before the beginning of the 2011 funeral services for Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz at the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD   |  Times]
  5. Plan your weekend July 28-30: Comic Con, Lady Antebellum, Margarita Wars, Tampa's Fourth Friday


    Plan your weekend

    Geek out

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Ibri Day poses for a photo at opening day of the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. (Friday, July 31, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]