From the Orlando Sentinel’s school zone
The Orange County School Board is expected to break its string of charter school rejections tonight by accepting an expansion by the Orlando Science Schools into the elementary grades. The existing Orlando Science middle and high school plans to branch out to enroll 600 students in grades K-5.
The current science-focused school has students in grades 6 to 10, and has earned an A from the state in the past two years. The school earned a B in 2008-09, when they had only middle school students. The district didn’t find any significant weaknesses in their elementary application.
Also Tuesday, the board rejected applications from Florida Virtual Academy, Academic Scholars Charter School and Mavericks Charter Schools. Seminole County also rejected an application from Florida Virtual in September, citing some of the same concerns about lack of innovation.
Orange school staff found curriculum problems at all three schools it rejected, including a plan to skip some FCAT tests and budgetary problems with Academic Scholars. Past performance was an issue for Mavericks, which operates a school in Osceola County. The incomplete results provided from their Osceola location “are below the standards of Orange County,” and their target population and approach are similar to four other Orange County schools. They were seeking approval to open two locations in Orange County.
In its rejection recommendations, district staff also cited problems with overly-ambitious enrollment projections and incomplete plans for special needs and English-language learners in all three applications.