BRADENTON -- For the second consecutive year, officials from the YMCA will not be permitted to open a charter within the Manatee County School District, if the school board on Tuesday approves a recommendation from the superintendent.
The school board is set to deny the YMCA's application at its Tuesday night board meeting, along with two other applications. Last year, YMCA officials withdrew the application when they were told Superintendent Rick Mills would not recommend the board approve the application. A total of five applications were sent to the school district this year.
The board is set to deny applications for Manatee Y Technological School, Cortez High School and Team Success Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics charter school. Applications for charter schools Oneco International School of Excellence and Plato Academy Charter School were withdrawn.
Officials from those two charters were informed the district was recommending denial of their applications as well, so the officials withdrew their applications, said Linda Guilfoyle. the director of district
support and the district contact for charter schools.
"They were notified our recommendation would be to deny going forward and they withdrew their applications," Guilfoyle said.
Currently, the district has 12 charter schools, 51 traditional schools and Manatee Technical Institute.
Rowlett Academy for Arts and Communication was the only charter of three applicants the board approved last year. The conversion school opened for the 2014-15 year without a hitch, Rowlett officials said.
Charter applications, which can run as long as 200 pages, were due to the district in early August and have been reviewed by a committee using a state evaluation tool. The committee ranked the applications as meeting or not meeting 19 standards, including for budget, curriculum plan, exceptional students and student performance and assessment.
The district committee found that Manatee Y Technological School, Cortez High School and Team Success Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics charter school applications were not up to standards.
The items are listed under the consent agenda. Unless a board member asks to pull an item off for more discussion, the denials will be approved without discussion.
The Manatee Y Technological School, was set to be run by the nonprofit Manatee County Family Young Men's Christian Association Inc. to serve at-risk students in grades 7 through 12. The charter would have replaced an at-risk school for youth it ran by contract with the district.
In July, the district announced it would not renew the annual contract with the Y. Officials cited financial reasons for the closure, saying the district could save $800,000 a year by providing the same services.
The closure came in the wake of a highly critical audit of the YMCA. The audit did not mention the school, but an addendum including emailed complaints did.
Even before the district announced it would not renew the school's contract, officials were working on the revamped charter application, said Sean Allison, the Y's executive director.
The charter application did not meet the standards in 14 out of 19 categories the district score sheet used, according to information provided by the district.
Allison said he is hoping the board will take a closer look at the Y's application and will approve the charter, bucking the district's recommendation.
"I feel like this application merits approval," Allison said. "We feel that it's right on and it's ready."
Allison said it's too early to say what officials will do if the charter application is denied. There is a process in place for charter applicants to appeal a denial, but Allison said it is premature to discuss those options. Either way, Allison said officials at the Y will continue to fight for the at-risk youth.
Team Science STEM
Team Success Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Charter School was set to be run by the nonprofit Team Success A School of Excellence, The nonprofit also runs Team Success, a Title I charter school on 13th Avenue East in Bradenton.
The project planned to create a state-of-the-art facility that will fill a void in the county, Bill Orris, a board member and the contact person on the application, said in August.
The school expected to enroll 270 students from kindergarten to sixth grade in its first year, according to the application. By the fifth year, the charter expects to enroll 600 students from kindergarten to eighth grade, according to the application.
The application did not meet the standards in 15 out of the 19 categories the district school sheet used, according to information provided by the district.
Orris did not return requests for comments this week.
Cortez High School was set to be run by the nonprofit Tampa Bay Education Organization Inc., according to its charter application. Newpoint Education Partners LLC will provide education services, according to the application. Newpoint has offices in Clearwater and Akron, Ohio.
The company runs 14 schools in Florida, according to a map on its website. The charter application said that officials expected to enroll 300 students in grades 9 through 12 in the charter's first year.
The charter application did not meet the standards in 14 of the 19 categories the district score sheet used, according to information provided by the district.
David Stiles, the contact listed on the Cortez application, did not return requests for comment last week.
Oneco International School of Excellence officials decided to withdraw the application before the charter was recommended for denial. The district's questions regarding the planned Oneco International School of Charter application mostly focused how the charter planned to roll out the education program, said Frank Bolaños, the executive director. Once the district told the officials they'd recommend denial of the application, officials decided it was best to withdraw the application, he said.
"We'd like to be able to come back and work with the district," he said, adding they plan to submit an application again next year.
The school would focus on the STEM fields, with an added emphasis in art. The school is also designed to be internationally focused, so its students will be ready to compete in a global marketplace.
"It's really an ambitious program," Bolaños said.
The Oneco charter application failed to meet 13 of the 19 application standards, according to the district score sheet.
The second charter to withdraw its application before going before the board is Plato Academy Charter School, which would be run by a nonprofit of the same name. Education services will be provided by Superior Schools Corp., according to its application. The corporation is based in Clearwater and currently operates six charter schools in Pinellas County.
A growing student population and lack of school options drove officials to apply to open a charter in Manatee County, officials said.
The charters focus on the Greek language and culture, with a technology push.
Matt Gunderson, the director of school improvement and quality assurance, confirmed the school withdrew its application and said officials planned to reapply with the district in 2015.
The Plato charter failed to meet 15 of the 19 application standards, according to the district score sheet.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.