As they discussed the fates of three struggling charter schools last week, an interesting — and to some, surprising — debate erupted among Palm Beach County School Board members over the district’s responsibility to help quasi-public schools when they’re faltering.
“It’s all about giving a school support,” school board member Marcia Andrews said. “I just believe we have not done enough of that.”
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Sparring over how much district resources to dedicate to helping failing charters:
Jennifer Prior Brown: “If they are going to open a school they need to be educators and educational leaders, and have the governance skills to run a school … You’re now taking money away from Palm Beach County school children, taking money out of the classroom.”
Frank Barbieri: “I don’t want to hear about ‘we’re taking money from our kids and giving it to these kids.’ These are our kids. Let’s help them.”
Types of schools
Four types of schools in Palm Beach County:
1. Traditional public schools are taxpayer-funded and run by the Palm Beach County School District. They are open to all students, typically in a certain geographic area, and they’re free.
2. Private schools are run by private companies, which charge tuition. The school district and state Department of Education have no jurisdiction over them.
3. Charter schools are considered public schools because they get state money based on the number of students just like traditional public schools. But charters are typically run by an outside agency, including for-profit companies. Any student in the county can attend a charter school for free. The school district and state education department have limited oversight, mainly to ensure the school is meeting state rules on financial and academic accountability.
4. Alternative schools are taxpayer-funded and operated by the school district, but serve specific students such as special needs, at-risk or those in adult education.
Source: Palm Beach County School District; Florida Department of Education.
Charter school growth
|Year||Number of charter schools at October population count||Charter school enrollment at October population count|
*Florida International Language Academy, which had 68 students in the October 2012 count, has since closed. Another 30 charter schools have been approved to open in the next two years.
Source: Palm Beach County School District
What’s a charter school?
Considered public - gets state money based on number students
Typically run by an outside group, including for-profit companies
Free for any student in the county
Limited financial, academic oversight from district, state.