Wednesday, July 9, 2014

More on Collier County’s Charter Schools

As I wrote in “Charter Schools: Something to be ConcernedAbout in Florida?,” Collier County currently has five approved charter schools:

       Gulf Coast Charter Academy South (grades K-6)
       Immokalee Community School (grades K-6)
       Marco Island Academy (grades 9-12)
       Marco Island Charter Middle School (grades (6-8)
       Mason Classical Academy (grades K-6)

However, these charter schools are not among the 48 Collier County Public School District's public schools, as I stated in that post. 

In fact, charter schools are considered to be separate from public schools, and are not even mentioned on the District Profile webpage.

Instead, on a separate “Charter Schools webpage, the District says:

Charter schools are independent public schools operated by a non-profit organization. They hire their own teachers, design their own academic program, and control their own finances. They have their own board of directors that make decisions for the school.

The webpage states that:

In Florida, charter schools are accountable to the school district in which they reside for student academic performance and fiscal management, but they are not managed by the district.

Further pointing out that charters operate independently of the District, it states:

Parents interested in information about a charter school may contact the school or visit the school's web site.

A link to a “List of Collier County Public Charter Schools,” with addresses, phone number, school websites, and grades, is provided.

Also provided is a link to the Florida Department of Education’s “Charter Schools” webpage.  The tone there couldn’t be more different:

Charter schools are public schools of choice. They are very popular—and among the fastest growing school choice options in Florida. Charter schools are largely free to innovate, and often provide more effective programs and choice to diverse groups of students.

As we’ve seen, charter schools can be controversial, have the potential for abuse, and are particularly of interest now because candidates for two of the five School Board memberships are closely affiliated with the county’s newest charter school, the Mason Classical Academy.

Charter schools are also, as pointed out by the state Department of Education, very popular and among the fastest growing school choice options in Florida.

I wanted to write this post to correct my misstatement and clarify the relationship between the charter schools in our county and the Collier County Public School District. It’s all part of becoming an informed voter in the August 26 School Board elections.


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