SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND CHARTER SCHOOLS JOIN FORCES WITH QUALITY AUTHORIZING TASK FORCE

SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND CHARTER SCHOOLS JOIN FORCES TO RAISE THE QUALITY OF FLORIDA’S K-12 EDUCATION SYSTEM

On September 10th, 2014, the Quality Charter School Authorizer Task Force – made up of representatives from school districts and charter schools from around the state - talked frankly about new state assessments, facilities, student funding, and closures of low-performing programs. Hosted by the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS), the forum encouraged open dialog and an exchange of ideas of how districts and the charter schools they authorize can work better together. The meeting took place in Ft. Lauderdale and was broadcast live via web stream. It was co-chaired my State Representative Janet Adkins and Broward Schools Superintendent, Robert Runcie.

“We want quality schools, whether traditional or charter,” said Superintendent Runcie during his opening remarks. “This is the only way to improve the quality of life in our communities, and make Florida attractive to new businesses.”

For over four hours, the group discussed various issues that concern both sides – like new school performance measures and their potential impact on school grades, but also outlined what’s been working around the state. For example, Broward County’s on-site programmatic review has helped the district perform thorough evaluations of new charters in order to quickly identify, and help correct, vulnerabilities. It’s also given the district a great way to recognize quality charter operations. One topic that both sides shared a common interest in is serving high need communities. The group discussed a possible charter school/district partnership to serve these areas, and alternative timelines, and flexibility, for measuring student progress and learning gains. “This collaboration could be the most important thing the districts and charter schools partner on,” said Jim Pegg from the Palm Beach County School District.

“We started the Task Force to open the lines of communications between charter schools and their authorizers/school districts,” explains Robert Haag, FCPCS President. “The results have been phenomenal. We have been working together for two years now. We’ve built strong relationships, identified ways we can better serve children, and are now moving towards collaborative efforts. This forum is a win-win for everyone.”

Task Force panelists included: Wendy Dodge (Polk County Public Schools), Devarn Flowers (City of Pembroke Pines Charter School/Broward County), Dr. Osvaldo Garcia (Passport Academy/Orange County), Dr. Tim Kitts (Bay Haven Academies/Bay County), Connie Milito (Hillsborough County Public Schools), Richard Moreno (Building Hope, D.C.), Collette Papa (Academica Corp), Jim Pegg (Palm Beach County Public Schools), Jody Perry (Broward County Public Schools), Rod Sasse (Imagine Schools), Jeff Wood (May, Meacham & Davell, P.A.).