Monday, December 18, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: MacDill charter plan needs work

The Hillsborough County School Board made the correct decision Tuesday in denying an application for a charter school at MacDill Air Force Base. Though the school would have been convenient for many military families and could have met some unique needs, the governing structure was muddy and it was unclear what role a local advisory group would have had in the operation. The sponsors could better use their time in the coming year by improving the application rather than by appealing the School Board's decision.

The applicant, the Florida Charter Educational Foundation, proposed building a K-8 school on the grounds of MacDill. Supporters said the school would meet the needs of MacDill families who cannot get their children into Tinker Elementary, the on-base public school run by the school district. The charter would have added 875 elementary and middle school slots to augment the roughly 550 students attending Tinker. It also would have provided MacDill with a middle school on the base, making it convenient for parents on duty there.

Yet the board was right to follow the staff's recommendation to reject the plan, because the sponsors were inconsistent about the leadership structure. In its application, the foundation said a local governing council of base leaders, parents and others would have "direct oversight" of the school, including "authority to oversee the school's finances" with the foundation providing "broader strategic direction." But the application blurred the lines of authority. In recent days, sponsors made matters worse by insisting the local council was — contrary to the application — only advisory in nature.

To hold any charter accountable, the school district needs to know who is in charge and the lines of authority. This lack of focus doesn't serve either side at the start of what would be a long-term relationship. Board members sent the right message by underscoring their concerns while also acknowledging that a charter might serve the unique needs of MacDill parents, who are often frequently rotated in and out of assignments, leaving them without the community support they could find more easily on base. The concept for a charter school at MacDill makes sense, but this proposal falls short.

Superintendent MaryEllen Elia should follow through on her offer to establish a task force to examine options for MacDill. The district clearly is sensitive to the needs of military families. Tinker has been an A-rated school for 12 of the last 13 years, so it's obvious the district is doing something right on the base. Rather than appeal the district's decision to the state, the charter sponsors should work with Elia on a collaborative approach, or improve their application and bring it back next year. There is no need for this issue to become divisive. Better to direct those energies toward better serving MacDill families as soon as possible.

Comments
Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

The annual Editorial Cartoon Round-Up is a thought-provoking recap of a momentous 2017. The gallery containing 32 cartoons from some of the best editorial cartoonists in the country is made available by the Washington Post News Service & Syndicat...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17