Hillsborough County this year will have two, not three alternative charter high schools operated by the Accelerated Learning Solutions management group.
Town and Country Charter High School is being shut down because of low enrollment, the company confirmed on Wednesday, after School Board member Cindy Stuart announced the closing during Tuesday's School Board meeting.
The announcement happened as members were discussing whether to renew the contract for one of its sister schools, Seminole Heights Charter High School. Critics, led by the League of Women Voters, say the district could do a much better job of serving students who are behind in their credits and in risk of dropping out than the charter schools group, which receives more than $4 million a year in state money.
Earlier in the week, company president Angela Whitford-Narine defended the schools' low graduation rates by explaining that those rates reflect how many students earn their diplomas in four years. The market for the alternative charter schools, she said, consists of students who have fallen behind or had to interrupt their studies because of life circumstances.
The board ultimately approved Seminole Heights Charter's 10-year contract.
When asked about Town & Country, Whitford-Narine told the Tampa Bay Times in an email, "the closure is the result of collaborative discussions between the School and the District. The school has drafted a comprehensive closure plan and is working hand-in-hand with the District to ensure that all current students are successfully transitioned into Seminole Heights, West University, or another appropriate local program."
Whitford-Narine cited the arrangement as "an example of a charter school truly collaborating with Hillsborough County School District to identify the needs of the district and the community and taking appropriate action to ensure that public funds are spent where they are most needed and in the best interest of students."