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  1. Education

MacDill school charter plan might be dropped before Tuesday, Hillsborough official says

Published Sep. 26, 2014

TAMPA — The proposal for a charter school at MacDill Air Force Base might not be considered Tuesday after all, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

District spokesman Stephen Hegarty said he was told the charter group wants the item taken off Tuesday's meeting agenda. District officials were waiting for a written request Friday afternoon from Stephen Mitchell, the Tampa attorney who chairs the MacDill school organization.

As Mitchell told the Times on Thursday, the group is waiting to see if the base's new commander, Col. Daniel Tulley, is in favor of the school. Tulley has been meeting with Superintendent MaryEllen Elia on another plan to expand Tinker Elementary, which is on the base, to include middle school grades.

The school district turned down the group's first bid for a school in late 2013. At the time, base commander Col. Scott DeThomas was strongly in favor of the plan. After his retirement this summer, DeThomas was appointed to the MacDill school's board of directors.

Both proposals designated Fort Lauderdale-based Charter Schools USA as the management company. In both cases, the school district said there was not a sufficient arms-length relationship between the school and its paid managers.

Charter schools use tax dollars but are run independently of school districts. Enrollment in charters has been growing far more rapidly than school enrollment as a whole. This year more than 15,000 Hillsborough students attend charters.

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