Imagine Schools at South Velo's application for middle school is denied
By Colleen Wixon
Originally published 01:00 a.m., September 22, 2009
Updated 09:28 p.m., September 22, 2009
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Imagine School at South Vero’s parents groaned in disappointment as their application for a middle school was denied Tuesday in a split vote.
Some stormed out of the meeting.
The board voted 3 to 2 to deny Imagine Schools at South Vero’s application for a middle school on its Fourth Street campus.
Board members Matt McCain and Karen Disney-Brombach cast dissenting votes.
McCain said he has seen the school in action and saw first-hand student successes.
“There are some issues, but I think we can work through them,” he said.
Disney-Brombach also said she knew the school has been successful, despite the concerns about the application.
“Parents know what is best for their students,” she said.
But Chairman Carol Johnson said there were too many financial issues to ignore. She also said the school’s parent company was an issue because more than $800,000 a year is sent to Imagine’s corporate office.
The school hoped to expand to the eighth grade. Imagine Schools opened in 2008 as a kindergarten through fifth grade school. Currently, about 600 students attend.
Last year, the board rejected the school’s initial application for a middle school, saying it wasn’t complete. After several talks and discussions, the board allowed Imagine to add a sixth-grade at the school this year.
Schools Superintendent Harry La Cava said the application is different because it is for a different school. Imagine currently has a K-6 charter and is asking for a seventh/eighth grade charter, he said.
District staff had similar concerns when Imagine submitted its original K-5 charter, La Cava said.
More than 100 parents, teachers and students crowded the county commission chambers urging the board to approve the application. Because so many parents planned to attend the meeting, the district moved it from its usual location at the school district offices.
“This is allowing parents to make a choice for their child’s education,” said Imagine parent and teacher Jennifer Melton.
Parent Sue Adams said she pulled her child out of a traditional public middle school after two weeks because he came home crying every day. Her child changed when she enrolled him in Imagine.
“He loves school so much. This weekend he said he was bored and he wanted to go to school,” Adams said.
The board based its decision on a recommendation from La Cava. The district’s charter review committee, consisting of district administrators and board attorney Usher “Larry” Brown, also rejected the application.
Among the main concerns of the committee are the liens filed against the charter school’s finance company, School House Finance, by unpaid subcontractors. Subcontractors have called the district claiming they have not been paid for work done at the current Imagine Schools campus.
Brown said one lien was filed against Imagine for $5.2 million by the school’s contractor.
Other issues included questions about how the school would handle special needs and gifted students and dismissal procedures for misbehaving students.
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Imagine Schools: DENIED!
One can only wonder which absurdity led this school board to deny a charter for Imagine Schools:
Was it the $800,000 annual fee extracted by Imagine Schools?
Was it the $5.2 million lien filed by a contractor servicing Imagine Schools?
Was it the lack of attention for special needs students?
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