Lincoln Memorial Middle School is on track to become the next charter school in Manatee County.
Tuesday night, the School Board of Manatee County voted 4-1 to approve Lincoln Middle School’s charter school application.
Lincoln Memorial Academy will open as a charter school in the 2018-2019 school year, according to Manatee County School District spokesman Mike Barber.
“We’re ecstatic about what we’re going to be able to do. We’re going to be able to tailor what we’re going to be able to offer,” Lincoln Memorial Middle School principal Eddie Hundley said. “I just want to state the pride and excitement around my staff. My staff and the community rallying and helping to make this process a success and showing they do have a vested interest in school and students. I’m very impressed. We’re looking forward to this opportunity.”
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The next step, according to Mitch Teitelbaum, general counsel for the School District of Manatee County, is for the school to enter into a contract with the school district.
That process is expected to be completed in the coming weeks, Hundley said.
School board chair Charlie Kennedy said Tuesday night’s meeting had one of the biggest turnouts he’s seen in his time on the board.
“I was really happy for Lincoln,” Kennedy said Wednesday.
Kennedy, John Colón, Gina Messenger and Dave Minor voted in favor of Lincoln becoming a charter, while Scott Hopes cast the lone dissenting vote.
Hopes said his concerns with the school’s application centered around the proposed budget. He doesn’t think they’ll meet the assumptions and projections.
“I offered to spend the next 30-60 days to work with them to improve their application and address the numerous budget concerns,” Hopes said, but the offer was turned down.
“My concern is is for students, our primary focus is student success, Hopes said. “This is not about charter vs publicly run school . It has everything to do with, in my opinion, a very poor application. ... There’s no capitalization,” Hopes said.
Hundley isn’t worried. He said the budget that was originally submitted was balanced. Being a conversion school, Hundley said he was able to use teacher’s current salaries and add a 3 percent raise for budget projections.
“We will be fine.”
The process started in December, but the school’s staff and parents voted overwhelmingly in March to apply for the conversion.
Lincoln Memorial Academy plans to add an extra hour of school to the day for the “CALM” hour. CALM stands for College & Career preparation, Arts & Athletics, Leadership and Municipalities.
“We’re not stripping down, we’re enhancing and that’s exciting. And the appropriate nervousness is you want to be extremely effective right at the start, but that doesn’t always happen,” Hundley said.
Should the school not succeed in a charter form, Hopes said the contract between the charter and the district would be terminated and it could return to being a traditional public school.
In the interim, Hundley said they will prepare information on the new charter school for parents in the community; but there is a priority.
“We have a school to run here this year and that’s where our focus is,” Hundley said.
Lincoln Memorial Middle School currently has 427 students, according to Hundley. He hopes to see an increase in the number of students with the charter.
Lincoln has survived a variety of phases, but has always been a hub for the black community in Manatee County. In 1945, Lincoln Memorial opened as the only high school for black students in the county and remained segregated until 1969.