BY MARIE PULEO | POMPANO BEACH NEWS REPORTER
POMPANO BEACH SCHOOL: The Broward County Public School District recently approved an application submitted by the City of Pompano Beach to open a municipal charter school serving grades K through 8 beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. Several steps still remain before the project can become a reality.
The Pompano Beach Municipal 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.
The City Commission, at its meeting last Tuesday, passed a resolution officially accepting the school district’s approval of the municipal charter school application. Last December, the Commission approved submittal of the application to the school district.
According to information provided by Assistant City Manager Suzette Sibble at the City Commission meeting in December, there would be no cost to attend the school. However, the school would require parental involvement.
The school would be governed by a performance contract, or charter, between the City and the Broward County Public School District. The charter contract will detail 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, the maximum estimated enrollment capacity would be 910 students.
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 application the City submitted to the school district states that the Pompano Beach Municipal Charter School will give enrollment priority to students who are residents of Pompano Beach.
In the event the number of applications exceeds capacity for a given grade level, class or building, a lottery would be held among Pompano Beach students first, and then among other Broward County students. If there are extra seats remaining, and the number of out-of-county applicants exceeds the capacity, a separate lottery would be held for out-of-county applicants.
Pompano Beach Mayor Rex Hardin emphasized at Tuesday’s meeting that the school is not a private school, but a public charter school designed to serve residents from all parts of Pompano Beach, and they will get “first dibs” on all seats in the school.
The goal is for the school to achieve an “A” rating, which is the highest grade awarded by the state’s ranking system.
Most of the schools in Pompano Beach are not “A”- or “B”-rated, and the municipal charter school will offer “a different educational opportunity for our residents,” said Hardin.
Hardin added that, although Pompano Beach High School has an “A” rating, “there’s been much frustration on the part of the residents of Pompano Beach that they cannot necessarily go to that school because it is a magnet-only school.”
It is hoped the Pompano Beach Municipal Charter School will “put us on the map for educational excellence,” said Hardin, which could be a tool to attract businesses that may be considering relocating to Pompano Beach.
The new charter school is also 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.
The location of the school has yet to be determined, but the plan is for it to be “a centrally located facility.” It may entail building a new school or using an already existing site.
The City hired a team of local experts to assist with the application process for the Pompano Beach Municipal Charter School.
Now that the School Board has approved the application, there are still many steps to go, said City Manager Greg Harrison.
As per state law, within 30 days after the approval of the application, which was on July 21, the School Board is required to provide the City with an initial proposed charter contract for the Pompano Beach Municipal Charter School, as well as additional information regarding the charter agreement contractual process and a proposed timeline.
Several items will have to be brought to the City Commission for consideration, notably, the charter contract with the school district.
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