City commissioners heard Monday how Mosaica Education would operate West Palm Beach’s charter school, the first municipal charter school city in Palm Beach County and one of only a handful in Florida.
In September, the county school board granted a municipal charter to the city for a K-5 school.
The city had talks with Mosaica and Charter Schools USA, which runs the Renaissance charter school chain that has two schools in the county.
It later focused on Mosaica and now is in contract talks. Mayor Jeri Muoio would make the decision on any contract.
“Our number one goal is to be an international leader in providing world-class K-12 education,” Mosaica Chief Executive Officer Michael Connelly said Monday at a special commission workshop about the charter school.
Mosaica has 104 programs and 25,000 students in 14 U.S. states, Great Britain, India and the United Arab Emirates. It was founded in 1997 and opened its first school that year in Michigan. It began an online operation in 2009.
Connelly said the average Mosaica student gains 1.33 years of growth in mathematics and 1.24 years in reading and language arts for every year that other public school students do nationally.
Commissioners grilled Connelly about the fact that this would be the firm’s first school in Florida.
“We have been looking to enter the Florida market for a long time” Connelly said. “There’s a lot of need for improvement in education, in our humble opinion.”
But he said Mosaica requires “a strong local partner,” which would be the city.
“We’re not going to presume to understand the community. That’s the job of the local board,” he said.
Commissioner Shanon Materio said she wanted to be assured that Mosaica understands the state of education and the fact that Florida handles students from around the world.
“I will not pretend to be an expert on Florida culture (or) Florida education,” Connelly said. He said what Mosaica can offer is “being able to bring national standards to local communities and make them work …,” but just as important would be the guidance of the charter school’s board — in this case, the city commission.
“We’re humble enough to understand that every community is different. Florida is different from Georgia. West Palm Beach is different from Lake Worth.”
Later, at the commission’s regular meeting, Kimberly Mitchell suggested naming the new school after longtime educator and school administrator Clifford Bridges. She and Commissioner Ike Robinson said he died last week. Bridges grew up around the city’s Gaines Park and is the city’s longest-serving member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
What the commission did
The West Palm Beach City Commission, sitting as the board of the Community Redevelopment Agency, also voted 4-0 Monday to require Palm Beach Dramaworks to operate its proposed light-fare cafe at least 12 hours a day, six days a week. The city already has approved the request by the theater company at 201 Clematis St. to move into the adjacent cafe, which is the former home of Pizza Luna.