Charter Pulse

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FLORIDA: Keys marine charter school gets $350K grant

ocean-studies-charter-schoolThe Ocean Studies Charter School in Tavernier has received a $350,000 grant from the state Department of Education that will be used primarily to purchase classroom supplies and materials.

The small charter, which bases its curriculum around an appreciation and study of the Florida Keys’ unique marine environment, will receive two installments of $175,000, one for the current school year, the other in the 2013-14 school year.

The news came as a relief to the Monroe County School Board, which at a recent meeting in Key West reviewed the school’s financial report. It indicated available funds of just $63. News of the grant seemed to allay those concerns.

“It’s enough to cover the funding, and I accepted that as a good explanation,” School Board member John Dick said. “They gave a reasonable explanation of why it will be OK going forward.”

Former School Board member Steve Pribramsky, an accountant by trade, volunteers with Ocean Studies to help with the school’s books.

Principal Jennifer Flores lauded the grant, which she said would go along way at the small public charter.

“It’s really an exciting thing for our school,” she said. “It’s really helping us get the program that we envision up and running, and it’s just so nice to have that opportunity.”

The school has already bought 10 tandem kayaks for students to use. Kayaks were formerly rented from area vendors or temporarily provided by donors. The grant also paid for life jackets for each of the school’s 72 students.

Flores said she also plans to purchase digital projector microscopes, new textbooks and furniture, among other things.

She said the new equipment will “not only help them understand marine science but also engage in their day-to-day school work. We couldn’t do all these lovely things without the help of this grant.”

Charter schools are public schools funded by the state, with the local school district acting as a funding conduit and keeping 5 percent of annual per student allocations. They differ from traditional public schools in that they are not bound by rigorous bureaucratic reporting, curriculum and student progression policies.

Ocean Studies serves students from kindergarten to grade three. Flores said parents have responded so well to the curriculum approach that plans are in the works to expand to include grades four and five.

In terms of students, the school plans to grow from 72 to 90 pupils in the next school year and, under the terms of its charter with the School Board, could take up to 116 students.

“Eventually we’ll go to 116,” Flores said, “but we’re growing slowly. We don’t want to grow too quickly. Our school is going really great and our parents are really happy.”

The grant comes from the Florida Public Charter Schools Grant Program, which accepts applications in the form of requests for proposals, then awards federal allocations to schools and districts that meet detailed planning and implementation strategies.

Source: KeysNet.com – by Sean Kinney

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2013 by in Charter Schools, Florida, Grants and tagged .

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