With School Board vote on tap Tuesday, opponents contend Pinecrest Academy managers are focused on profits — not education.Elizabeth Djinis Staff Writer @djinisinabottle
SARASOTA — A local education activist group plans to protest outside of Sarasota County Schools’ administrative headquarters Tuesday afternoon in advance of a school board vote on a charter school applicant with ties to a controversial academic service provider.
The group, Protect Our Public Schools, sent an email to their members Sunday asking them to gather for a “Vote No on Pinecrest” rally before Tuesday’s board meeting.
Board members are set to vote Tuesday on Pinecrest Academy Gulf Coast, a proposed K-8 charter school in the Palmer Ranch area managed by Miami-based nonprofit Pinecrest Academy Inc. and assisted by academic service provider Academica.
Both Pinecrest and Academica are known for managing a variety of charter schools across the state. Pinecrest Academy alone has seven other charter schools set to open in the next two years, according to their application. The school’s application stated that they chose the Palmer Ranch area because of overcrowding at Ashton Elementary School, located near Proctor Road and Honore Avenue.
As proof of their reasoning, the applicants cited a Herald-Tribune article on Ashton’s looming student enrollment issues.
Academica has also attracted various negative headlines in recent years, including a Miami Herald article that called the education service provider “Florida’s richest charter school management firm.”
In 2011, Academica ran more than 60 schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties alone, earning more than $158 million in total revenue.
“The Pinecrest Academy does not reflect the needs of Sarasota students,” said the organization’s chairperson, Carol Lerner, in a press release Monday. “Instead, it reflects the profiteering needs of the for-profit corporation that manages it, the Miami-based Academica Corporation, which is the largest and wealthiest charter school management company in the State of Florida.”
The school performed fairly well on the final evaluation from the district’s Charter Review Committee, with 75 percent of its application meeting the needs of the district, 17 percent partially meeting them and 8 percent not meeting them at all.
Still, many of the comments levied by the review committee’s members were critical. At one point in the application, when discussing the school’s parent and community involvement, the review committee stated that it appeared that the school had not considered Sarasota’s individual situation.
“It appears that the application was submitted as part of the board’s or Academica’s growth plan with little regard for the Sarasota County School community or the needs of Sarasota parents and students,” the evaluation reads.
Board members will vote on the application, as well as the Spanish-English immersion program charter Dreamers Academy, at tomorrow’s board meeting.
Should either charter be rejected by the board, the decision can be appealed at the state level or another application can be filed with the district.
Source : http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180514/local-activist-group-to-protest-charter-school-before-board-vote