Manatee school board prepares to vote on charter applications

eearl@bradenton.comAugust 31, 2013 

MANATEE-- The Manatee County school district is preparing to vote on the approval of the charter applications of three charter schools: Rowlett, the Manatee Y Technological High School and iGeneration Empowerment Academy.

Rowlett Elementary, potentially the district's first to convert to a charter school, is the only one that Superintendent Rick Mills is recommending for approval.

Mills said that after two separate review panels, his recommendation is to move Rowlett's charter forward.

The charters are reviewed by staff under the direction of Linda Guilfoyle, director of district support charter and contracted sites.

Mills said he is recommending denying the charters for the Manatee Y Technological High School and the iGeneration Empowerment Academy.

The Manatee Y Technological High School, a contract school in the Dream Center, applied to be a charter, and iGeneration Academy is a start-up charter.

"Neither were recommended to me by the review panels," Mills said. "There were areas in their applications that did not meet requirements."

According to the charter application evaluation form, the charters for the Manatee Y Technological School and iGeneration Inspiration Academy lack detail and show a lack of preparation.

Jeff Baker, the chairman for the charter board of iGeneration Empowerment Academy, said the school has more to consider for establishing its charter in Manatee County.

iGeneration Empowerment Academy is a new sixth-through-12th-grade charter that blends online education tools with on-site class time with teachers.

Locations for the school are planned in Manatee, Collier

and Broward counties this year, as well as a second location in Palm Beach.

"We are trying to follow along with process and truly get a good understanding of what they are looking for," Baker said. "Our culture is for students who have not had success in a typical setting."

Calls to the Manatee Y Technological High School were not returned.

School board member Barbara Harvey said that she does not know how she will vote yet.

"I am reading information, but there has not been a final discussion, so I cannot say yes or no," Harvey said.

School board member Bob Gause said that he is in support of Rowlett becoming a charter.

"The majority of the staff in the school and the parents want to do this," Gause said.

"They deserve the chance and the opportunity to do this."

Calls to Brian Flynn, the principal of Rowlett Elementary School, were not returned.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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