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Two Pasco County charter schools seek contract adjustments

The school district is recommending approving one request, and not the other.
Published May 29

Learning Lodge Academy opened as a charter school in Pasco County five years ago, leasing the property where it operates on Pine Hill Road in Port Richey.

Just two months ago, the School Board approved a five-year extension to the elementary school’s charter. Now its leaders have come back seeking more: They’ve requested an added 10 years on their charter, as well as an expansion into middle school grades.

The changes would help Learning Lodge achieve its goal of purchasing its school site for a more stable future, its board president Cinnemon Weinhauer wrote to the district.

Imagine School of Land O’Lakes had its charter extended to 15 years back in 2013. After a rocky start, it has turned in consistently strong results.

Now its leaders want to increase their enrollment cap to 950 students for next year, up from the current 863. Charter schools rated “high performing” by the state, as Imagine has been, are allowed by law to add to their enrollment once per year, so long as they do not exceed their built capacity.

School district superintendent Kurt Browning said he’s recommending the School Board, which sponsors both charters, approve the Learning Lodge request and turn down Imagine’s.

“Learning Lodge is going to stick around. They’re not a bad school,” Browning said. “So we’re going to give them their 15 years for financial purposes,” so they afford the property.

Imagine, by contrast, “got its request in late,” Browning explained. “They’ll have to stick with what they gave to us” as an enrollment estimate by the March deadline.

The School Board is scheduled to consider both proposals when it meets on Tuesday.

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