Selected readings on US charter schools
Parents could have more than a dozen new charter schools to choose from next year, including a sports-themed academy, two Hebrew-language schools and several others focused on science and math curriculum.
The School Board approved 19 charter school applications on Tuesday and denied three. Last month, they denied another applicant.
Currently, there are 95 charters in the district, with an enrollment of about 37,000 students. Charter schools are privately managed but funded by taxpayer dollars.
The newly approved schools include several from companies that already run campuses in Broward, such as Ben Gamla, Somerset Academy and Franklin Academy.
Ben Gamla, which teaches Hebrew, will open a middle and high school next year to continue its existing dual language program. Somerset Academy will open three schools and Franklin will open one.
“Charter schools are allowed to replicate themselves, which means we’re doing it well and we’re going to do it again,” said Jody Perry, director of charter school support for the district.
Other schools include SLAM Academies, a middle and high school for students interested in pursuing a career in sports, including management or sports marketing.
Magnolia School for the Arts and Technology, an elementary and high school campus for the arts, was also approved.
This year, there were an initial 40 applications. Of those, 22 were approved, four were rejected over problems with curriculum or student services, and the rest withdrew their applications, said Perry.
“Some realized they weren’t ready yet,” she said.
Perry said charter schools have two years after approval to open and it’s unlikely all of them will open next year.
But the number of approvals prompted some school officials to reiterate the need for tighter controls.
“[The state] is going to have to do something or the whole system is going to implode,” said School Board member Robin Bartleman. She said schools that shut down and fail students “make the good schools look bad.”
This year, several charter schools struggled to keep afloat. Three closed their doors earlier this year and another will shutter in January.
College Bound Academy of Excellence in Margate closed last month for failing to pay its rent. The School Board also terminated Ivy Academy middle and high schools in Fort Lauderdale for bouncing students between unapproved facilities.
School officials plan to lobby the state Legislature for more stringent accountability measures, such as:
•Requiring charters to give districts at least 15 days notice of their approved facility;
• Allowing districts to reject applications from failing charter school entities or those with financial issues;
•Banning brand new charter schools from submitting applications
“I need Legislative action to help us take care of children,” said Perry
Source: Sun-Sentinel – by Karen Yi