After its existence was threatened more than a year ago, Manatee Charter School has earned a conditional two-year extension of its contract with the school district.
The K-8 school first received a letter on Feb. 9, 2017, when district officials cited a chaotic learning environment and poor record keeping as reasons why the charter should face non-renewal. About two months later, the school board voted to grant Manatee Charter a one-year extension, which required the school to follow an improvement plan.
That plan was violated when the school failed to submit student grades on time, according to a June 6 letter from the district, but the problem was then rectified.
Manatee Charter, 4550 30th St. E., Bradenton, received another letter this week. It said the school is receiving a two-year extension, assuming it follows the requirements of its contract, along with all Florida laws and Department of Education guidelines.
The letter, signed by Superintendent Diana Greene, was written with reservation.
It said the school could still face closure if its future teacher evaluations are not submitted in a timely, proper manner. in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, Manatee Charter failed to submit a total of 113 teacher evaluations, according to the letter. School officials completed the evaluations this month.
"The School District of Manatee County will ensure that Manatee Charter School complies with all statutory and contractual requirements," said Mitchell Teitelbaum, the district attorney.
Principal Bonnie Brett was hired last year, when the school replaced 60 percent of its teachers during an overhaul. She has since worked to rectify past administrative failures and, ultimately, to keep the 420-student school open.
But her vision goes beyond a renewal of the school's contract. She said Manatee Charter could one day serve as a model school for the entire district, a goal that requires a partnership between administrators, teachers, students and parents.
The school, she said, will start by improving its school grade. It earned a D for the last three years, down from its C grade in 2014, and up from its F grade in 2013. Brett said her staff will monitor performance data and identify students who need extra help.
"This year has been a lot of tears and a lot of celebrations," she said.
On Wednesday, the last day of school for Manatee Charter students, Susan Harvin-Peterson gave awards to her fourth-grade classroom. Three students earned a certificate for making the honor role, and another three achieved high honors, meaning they received straight As on their report cards.
Other students received certificates for their success in mathematics or spelling.
"Have a totally terrific summer, and I hope to see you all next year," the teacher said.