Academica, a charter school company that has more than 100 schools in six states, wants to open a school in Parkland, but city officials are more in favor of a municipally run charter school.
Mayor Michael Udine expects the community to rally around the idea of a municipal charter school and helping in raising funds for the project. “I think that is something that our residents will accept and appreciate,” he said at a recent City Commission workshop. “I don’t think our residents will accept a private charter school.”
A charter school, however, isn’t the city’s preferred option. City officials and staff want the School Board to build a school in the city, but the chances of that happening in the near future appear slim. “My goal will be to continue pushing the School Board to build a K-8 school in the wedge,” said Udine. “But we should explore the option of a municipal charter school and see what the feasibility is.”
The city has an agreement with the School Board for seven modular classrooms at Heron Height and Park Trails Elementary Schools; the School Board is also adding 24 new classrooms at Riverglades Elementary School. “We are in pretty adequate shape for the next few years,” said Udine. “It makes sense to look three to four years down the road. We want our children to study in Parkland.”
The School Board has its five-year projections on student strength at each of the public schools within Parkland, but Commissioner Christine Hunschofsky wanted the city to come up with its own set of numbers. “It seems like middle school numbers are going up quicker than expected,” she said. “I prefer a K-8 option. I would love for the school board to build another school in the city, but I don’t feel comfortable betting on it happening.”
City officials were given three charter school options to choose from: a privately operated charter school, a municipal charter school and a university or “lab” charter school. All of the officials were of the opinion that a municipal charter school provided the city the most control; some of them cited the examples of Pembroke Pines and Coral Springs that run academically successful charter schools.
Vice Mayor Stacy Kagan wanted the city to seek input from the education advisory board on the idea of a municipal charter school. “Having control over what happens is very important. The most important thing is to keep Parkland children in Parkland schools.”
“Building a charter school shouldn’t be the focus of the city,” Commissioner Mark Weissman said. “It should be the last option. I would like us to use our resources to ensure that the school board builds another school in the city.”
What do you think? Email jzizzo@ tribpub.com.
Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel