Charter schools offer choice

Published: Monday, January 20, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 19, 2003 at 10:24 p.m.

I want to clear up some misconceptions about the effects of new state legislation on charter schools in Alachua County.

As of Jan. 7, if a charter school application is turned down by the School Board, the applicant may appeal to a state appeals commission. The commission may report to the State Board of Education that, in its opinion, the application was turned down for no good reason. Based on this opinion, the state board may reverse the ruling of the local School Board and order that the charter school be allowed to open.

The appeals commission or the Board of Education may, on the other hand, agree with the district and refuse to order the opening of the school.

While some local education officials seem to find this new appeals system oppressive, it will have almost no effect on Alachua County. In the recent election campaign, Tina Turner, Wes Eubank and Ginger Childs, the new School Board majority, all pledged to support the opening of new, high-quality charter schools.

Therefore, if solid applications are presented to the School Board, they will be approved and Tallahassee will not be consulted. Conversely, if the board turns down an application because it is weak or faulty, the appeals commission will have no reason to reverse the School Board decision.

The law was changed because, unlike the Alachua County School Board, there are many school districts around the state that refuse to consider any charter applications.

The legislative intent is that all residents have some degree of school choice. Charter schools offer that choice to families. Our School Board recognizes this fact and is to be commended for doing so.

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