Collaboration with Districts discussed at Town Hall meeting


The 18th annual Florida Charter Schools Conference started yesterday – November 18, 2014 - in Orlando. The three-day conference kicked off with a Town Hall meeting hosted by the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS), the state’s leading charter school support and advocacy organization.

During the Town Hall meeting, panelists discussed the impact the state’s new tests and grading system will have on students and schools, education funding, legislative changes, Exceptional Students services and funding, and the urgent need for districts and charter schools to collaborate on issues of common concerns.

“The FCPCS Quality Authorizing Task Force meeting that FCPCS held this past September was a great leap forward,” said moderator Tim Kitts, FCPCS board member and founder of the Bay Haven Academies in Panama City. “Charter schools and district representatives had a real heart to heart about what’s working, what needs improvement, and what we can do to work together on issues that we both want to address and change.”

“Quality charter schools starts with a quality authorizer,” said Adam Miller, Executive Director, FLDOE Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice “The work that FCPCS is doing and what FLDOE developed on standards is helping districts be more effective.” Using best practices, input from field, and a 2013 district superintendent summit, FLDOE developed a Principals & Standards of Quality Authorizing, and created the District-Charter Collaborative Compact - an opportunity for Districts to develop and implement bold and innovative strategies for collaborating and partnering with independent high-impact charter schools to serve students in Florida's highest need areas. Four districts – Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, and Miami Dade – are participating in the compact. Meanwhile, Dr. Jesse Jackson, Superintendent of the Lake Wales Charter School System, encouraged charter school leaders to collaborate with each other, not just with their district.

Various financial issues came up. Finding a designated source of capital funding is a key concern as is the desire by charter schools, and choice parents, to have funding follow the child. Other issued discussed during the three-hour meeting ranged from the model contract to giving districts the ability to check applicants’ history; application and contract timelines to the importance of highlighting successes within the charter school movement. Especially the charter schools serving high need areas. “The truth is, charter schools are serving an estimated 45% of free-and-reduced lunch students,” said Miller.

# # # Pictured (Left to Right): Town Hall panelists Tim Kitts, FCPCS board member and founder of the Bay Haven Academies; Dr. Jesse Jackson - Superintendent, Lake Wales Charter School System; Devarn Flowers - Administrator for Pembroke Pines Charter Schools and FCPCS board member; Adam Miller - Executive Director, Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, FLDOE; Dr. Ilene E. Wilkins - President/CEO, UCP Central Florida; Charles A. Gibson - General Counsel, Somerset Academy Charter Schools; Jim Horne - Partner, Strategos Group; Octavio Visiedo - Senior VP, Imagine Schools; Collette Papa - General Counsel, Academica; Richard Moreno - Executive Director, Building Hope Florida; Jeffrey Wood - partner at May, Meacham & Davell, P.A., and FCPCS board member; and Larry Williams – FCPCS advocacy team.