Close the school, the superintendent says, and who can argue with that?
Imagine Charter School in St. Petersburg has some of the poorest test scores in the entire state, and those results have been pretty steady for several years now.
So feel free to applaud the example of increased accountability. And maybe you should appreciate the idea of proper administrative oversight.
Just don't confuse it with an actual solution.
There are no winners in this exercise. Not the teachers or counselors who faced long odds. Not the students or parents who were hoping for something better.
And certainly not the neighborhood or school district that has lost another option in a frustrating quest to close a testing gap among Pinellas students.
"We have to stop treating Pinellas County as one singular school system,'' said former St. Petersburg police Chief Goliath Davis, who is breaking into the education field by trying to develop the Learning Village charter school in St. Petersburg. "The way we do things in the north county is not working in the south county.
"The strategies for dealing with these kids need to be somewhat different than the strategies being utilized elsewhere. We can't keep doing what we're doing, and expect to have dramatically different results.''
Or here's another way of saying it:
Pinellas County had seven schools rank among the 100 lowest-performing elementary schools in the state, according to figures released this week. Of those seven schools, one is in Clearwater.
The other six are in St. Petersburg.
This is not a suggestion the School Board is favoring north county schools. It is simply pointing out that there is a problem at the other end of the county, and we are obligated to ask why.
So are there reasons for the disparity in school performances?
Sure, and you could probably start with socioeconomic factors. Of those seven low-performing elementary schools, the number of free or reduced lunch students in third grade was at least 88 percent and as high as 98 percent in 2011.
The obvious inference is low-income students are facing different challenges from families in more affluent school zones.
And this is why Imagine's apparent failure is such a disappointment. Charter schools have the freedom to look at problems from different angles with innovative ideas. And yet Imagine could be the second charter to close in St. Petersburg in the last three years.
So is there a better solution?
Davis believes there is.
Unlike Imagine and the failed Life Skills Center that were operated by corporations, he wants Learning Village Center to be a community-based school.
The idea is that you are not just changing the curriculum, but you are having the community take pride and ownership in the school.
If Davis can work out a deal to rent a shuttered school in St. Petersburg, he is hopeful of having Learning Village open its doors for the 2013-14 school year.
"We have too many kids who don't see the link between an education and their job status,'' Davis said. "We have to change the way they look at schools.
"The whole idea is to make a school part of the community instead of being seen as intrusive.''