Florida High School for Accelerated Learning - Collier County Campus
Targets high-need, high-risk students in grades 9-12
Aims to prepare high-need, high-risk students for college and career success through an individually paced, technology enhanced, and flexibly scheduled program that leads to a high school diploma and a successful post-secondary pathway. Students will be surrounded by a climate of respect in which school leadership, faculty and staff understand that the complex, often disruptive lives of these students frequently impedes attendance and learning.
Aims to enroll 325 students its first year.
Will be managed by Accelerated Learning Solutions, Inc.
NAPLES — The number of charter schools in Collier County could double next year, pending final contract agreements with the district's School Board.
The district recently approved applications for three new charter schools — Florida High School for Accelerated Learning, Gulf Coast Charter Academy South and iGeneration Empowerment Academy of Collier County.
"Every applicant is trying to fill a specific niche," said David Glennon, director of competitive grants and charter schools with the district.
The state emphasized charter schools this year, granting them freedom from class-size reduction laws and collective bargaining agreements while designating more grants for charter schools.
"The state would say what they're doing with charter schools is to foster innovation and competition," Glennon said. "Creative people will come up with a great way to manage schools with little money."
Since approving Marco Island Academy in March — the first charter school the district approved in more than 10 years — the district appointed Glennon as the liaison to the charter schools.
Charter schools are considered public schools in Florida. They receive tax dollars depending on the number of students enrolled, similar to traditional public schools. But they have more flexibility with teacher salaries, work days, class-size reduction laws, and even in accepting students.
"In traditional schools, we educate every single child," Glennon said.
He explained that charter schools could turn away a high-needs student due to limited resources. But charter schools aren't allowed to select the best students, or one type of student. Most charter schools use a lottery system to determine the student population.
By law, charter schools must provide instruction or educate students differently than a traditional public school would.
Gulf Coast Charter Academy South will cater to K-8 students with a focus on English language learners. It plans to educate students using the STEM model — science, technology, engineering, mathematics — based on learning-by-doing, observation and scientific study.
Gulf Coast Charter Academy South
Targets English language learner students in grades K-8; will only target K-5 in 2012-13 and will add a grade level each year until grade 8
Aims to foster pride in academic achievement for all students, coupled with a concerted effort focused on the English language learner population, through the STEM model (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). The school strives for higher student learning outcomes while teaching lifelong fitness and developing the students’ creative ability.
Aims to enroll 210 students its first year.
Will be managed by The Leona Group
Florida High School for Accelerated Learning will cater to grades 9 through 12 and high-need, high-risk students using a technology-enhanced but flexible program. The school will have three different sessions — morning, afternoon, evening — to accommodate students with jobs, families, etc.
David Stiles with the Accelerated Learning school said he felt the at-risk students were underserved in Collier County and statewide.
"They'll be successful with us because we offer something different," Stiles said, referring to the flexible schedules and computer-based instruction.
iGeneration Empowerment Academy will cater to students in grades 6 through 12 who are interested in a high-tech, high-touch school that blends virtual learning in a brick-and-mortar based classroom setting with traditional teachers.
Kinny Griffith with the iGeneration Academy said the blended model is the trend of the future.
"It's hard for every public school to be everything for everyone," he said. "Charter schools have brought in choice."
Griffith also explained that the structure allows teachers to spend more time on helping students learn through one-on-one or small group tutoring sessions.
"Teachers (in traditional schools) are spending a lot of time on managing behavior," he said.
Griffith said the model for the new charter school will free up a teacher's time to enhance student learning.
Griffith's eldest daughter is dyslexic. He had trouble finding a school that fit her specific needs. He said this is why he got involved in charter schools — to find creative solutions to challenges in education.
The three charter schools will be run by education service providers — for-profit companies that manage charter schools. This will be the first time a charter school in the district will contract with an education service provider.
Glennon said this makes the stakes even higher.
"We want to be very cautious that if there are people out to make a buck, that students are learning," Glennon said.
The district has the ultimate control to shut down a charter school if it is being grossly mismanaged, if the students are consistently underperforming on standardized tests, or if the school is in violation of safety codes.
iGeneration Empowerment Academy of Collier County
Targets students in grades 6-12
Aims to provide a standards-based rigorous online curriculum to students, coupled with site-based instruction in a unique, campus-based, learning studio. The school will offer a blend of both online and face-to-face learning.
Aims to enroll 200 students its first year.
Will be managed by InterVisual Education Management Services of Florida
A charter school's grade affects the district's state grade as well. If a school gets an F, the district can decide not to renew the contract, Glennon said.
But rather than shutting schools down, charter schools in Florida seem to be gaining popularity.
At Marco Island Academy, the STEM-focused charter school that opened up this year, enrollment is up 20 percent since August. Eighty-three students attend the academy now. For its first year, the school was approved for ninth- and 10th-grade students only. Principal Christopher Pellant expects enrollment to more than double next year when 11th- and 12th-grade students can enroll.
He said the addition of new charter schools to the district will be a good thing.
"There's a little bit of competition sometimes ... You learn to do what you do better," he said.
For Marco Island Academy, that means putting a strong emphasis on its marine biology program and its access to resources such as the Ocean Futures Society.In addition to Marco Island Academy, the two existing charter schools in the district are Immokalee Community School, opened in 2000, and Marco Island Charter Middle School, opened in 1998. Immokalee Community School has 241 students and Marco Island Charter has 404 students. Enrollment in Immokalee Community School and Marco Island Charter increased 5.7 percent and 12.22 percent, respectively, since last year.
In the state, more than 154,000 students are enrolled in 459 charter schools. Florida ranked third in the nation in charter school enrollment in 2010-11, according to the Florida Department of Education.
Glennon said the low number of charter schools in Collier County (even if the number doubles to six next year) reflects highly on the quality of education the district provides.
Collier is one of the districts with the fewest charter schools — Lee County has 26, Miami-Dade has more than 100 and Broward has around 75.
"It speaks volumes of Collier County that we don't have a large number of charter schools," Glennon said. "That tells me that the vast majority of our parents are happy with the quality of education."
All that is left for the three charter schools to do before they are officially approved is to finalize their individual "charters" or contracts with the Collier School Board. Once approved, a charter school can scout out a location for its campus.
"Right now, none of the applications are perfect ... but in all likelihood, in the end, it will all work out," Glennon said.