BY MARIE PULEO | POMPANO BEACH NEWS REPORTER
The City of Pompano Beach has plans to open a municipal charter school for the 2021-2022 school year.
On Dec. 10, the City Commission unanimously approved the submission of a charter school application to the Broward County Public School District to obtain the required approvals to establish the school, which would be for grades K through 8. The location of the school has yet to be determined.
The charter school would be part of the Broward County public school system, but independently operated, with the City Commission serving as the governing board, rather than the school board.
“I firmly support this,” said Mayor Rex Hardin. “It’s an opportunity for our residents to get a higher quality education than what is being offered currently in our public schools.”
There would be no cost to attend the school. However, the school would require parental involvement.
Entrance to the charter school would be regulated by a lottery system, with Pompano Beach students given priority, followed by other Broward County students.
The lottery would be open to every child in the city regardless of socio-economic status, Assistant City Manager Suzette Sibble told the City Commission.
The school would be governed by a performance contract, or charter, between the City and the Broward County Public School District. The charter contract details the school’s mission, the student achievement goals that must be met, and methods of assessment.
There would be a “rigorous educational curriculum,” with a high emphasis on reading, said Sibble. The goal is for students to achieve reading on grade level by third grade.
In its first year of operation, the school would have grades K, 1, 2 and 6. Additional grade levels would be added progressively: grades 3 and 7 in the second year; grades 4 and 8 in the third year; and grade 5 in the fourth year. With grades K through 8 in place, there would be about 1,000 students.
Hardin said the plans may entail building a new school or using an already existing site.
Like all other public schools in the school district, the Pompano Beach municipal charter school would be funded through the Florida Education Finance Program, which provides operating funds based on the number of full-time students enrolled.
The new charter school will seek accreditation, and once it receives its first rating from the state of Florida school ranking system, it will apply to become a Cambridge International School, with a stringent curriculum and high-level assessments, said Sibble.
The City hired a team of local experts to assist with the application process for the Pompano Beach municipal charter school.
The application will be submitted to the Broward County Public School District by Feb. 1, 2020. Between February and May 2020, the school district will review the application. If the application is approved by May 2020, the new school would open its doors in August 2021.
Sibble said that, leading up to that point, there will be plenty of opportunities for community input.
Several items will have to be brought to the City Commission for consideration, notably, the charter contract with the school district.
When plans are further along, information about how and when to apply for enrollment will be disseminated in a variety of ways, including social media, publications, community meetings and websites.
“It’s an exciting step for the City of Pompano Beach,” said Hardin. “I think it is going to pay huge dividends for our community for years.”
The goal is for the school to achieve an “A” rating, which is the highest grade awarded by the state’s ranking system. Hardin noted there are only two schools in Pompano Beach that aren’t “C”-rated. One is McNab Elementary School, which is rated “B,” and the other is Pompano Beach High School, which is rated “A.”
There are currently three charter schools in Pompano Beach, but they are not “municipal” charter schools, and have grades ranging from “C” to “D.”
“We’re stuck in the same rut, as far as our educational offerings in Pompano Beach, and that to me is unacceptable,” said Hardin. “We can do better, and I think we should.”
In addition to providing parents in the community a “high performing” public school option for their children, the new charter school is meant to address the growth that is occurring in the city, by mitigating the educational impact created by the development of thousands of new residential units.
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