Why don’t the state legislators give local school districts more flexibility rather than outsourcing education to charter schools?

The facts as stated in various articles seem conflicting. BUT let’s suppose they have good ideas to make the neighborhood school better for the neighborhood kids. Why wasn’t the principal allowed more flexibility to do those things as a neighborhood school?

“297 parents voted for the charter, with 51 voting against the measure. A charter would allow us to venture outside the box to give our Hispanic population different resources,” he said. “We have a large Latino population. We need to do things to ensure they are able to acquire the language at a more different pace. We need the autonomy to do things differently.” “It is impossible to expect these students to take a Florida Standards Assessment in English,” she said. By contrast, if the school transitions to a charter, it would give Kaiser the freedom to choose the best learning methods to help her students succeed, she said. Hundley said there would be several changes to the curriculum if the conversion takes place: The school would change the way it teaches history, to better appeal to the students’ heritage; it would extend instructional days by one hour; the school would provide dual-language electives; students would be able to take classes in English and Spanish simultaneously. That’s excerpts from this link:

  • How easy is it for a school district to deny a charter school application?
  • Why would parents vote to convert a neighborhood school to a charter school rather than lobby their elected school board to make changes to the neighborhood school?

Once the neighborhood school was converted to a charter school the kids were rezoned to other neighborhood schools. The kids had the same “choices” that they had previous to the conversion except there was a new charter school choice closer to their home and they’d get automatic admission at the newly assigned neighborhood school. 297 parents voted for the neighborhood school to convert to a charter school and 51 parents voted against the measure.

The Superintendent at the time, Diana Greene, told the board the charter school application met the minimal standards so if the board denied the application, then the state officials would probably override the board and side with the charter. Board member Scott Hopes sharply questioned the school’s finances, curriculum and leadership. The way the state handles conversions is the district retains a small portion of charter school’s per-pupil funding, maintains ownership of the building and is responsible for the maintenance, while the charter school is responsible for day-to-day operating costs. Board member Hopes said that is a raw deal for the district.
Quote from the article (link in button above):

Board member Scott Hopes and board vice chairman John Colon began gathering support for legislation they say would limit charter school leaders’ salaries, make charter leaders disclose their finances and require conversion charters like Lincoln to pay to use district-owned facilities. “There needs to be a level playing field,” Hopes said. “If the school district has to provide a building and maintenance, you should not be collecting the same per-pupil payment as if you were responsible for maintaining that building.”

The new charter school had financial problems as explained in this article:

In a 95-page ruling, an administrative law judge Friday backed a decision by the Manatee County School Board to terminate a contract with the charter school that he said showed “gross financial mismanagement,” including failing to pay salaries and payroll taxes, getting cut off by food suppliers and facing a shutoff of water service. Among other things, Cohen wrote that the school had more than $1.5 million in outstanding financial liabilities as of Aug. 23, including nearly $374,000 owed to the Internal Revenue Service and almost $82,000 owed to the Florida Retirement System. Also, it owed $259,000 in unpaid salaries and $76,000 to Humana for employee health-insurance coverage.


I said in the first line of this blog post that the facts seem inconsistent across the different articles. This January 2021 lawsuit says

The “public interest” component in this case consists of the Defendants [the school board, etc] having deprived the Plaintiffs Lincoln Memorial Academy and Eddie Hundley [the charter school operators] of their contractual right to operate a majority-African-American run private charter school that is specifically designed to improve the provision of public school education to underprivileged, inner-city African American youth,


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