Sarasota News Leader

09/21/12

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Sarasota News Leader September 21, 2012 in those "west-of-the-Trail" neighborhoods had been coming down, especially compared to the high-dollar days before the Great Re- cession hit. Board member Shirley Brown said during the workshop that she had learned from talking with Phillippi Shores teachers that some of the extra 86 students there had come from private schools and from the Imagine charter school at Palmer Ranch. Brown added that she felt some of that growth was linked to parents no longer be- ing able to afford the private schools and some of it was linked to disappointing Flor- ida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores for some charter schools in the district. Board member Carol Todd pointed out that two charter schools in the district — Imag- ine and Island Village Montessori — had "incredibly decreased enrollment" over what they had projected. Imagine was down 171 students, she said, while Island Montessori was down 103 stu- dents. Altogether, according to documents Weid- ner presented to the board, charter school enrollment was down 304 students com- pared to the projected enrollment for 2012- 13. Imagine had expected more middle school students than it has seen enroll this year, Weidner said. Island Montessori took over the NewGate School, Weidner continued, but it appar- ently did not end up with as many former NewGate students as it had anticipated. Page 10 As a result, he said, Island Montessori was making staffing adjustments. Because the charter schools' contracts with the School Board require the schools to esti- mate their following year's enrollment each spring, Weidner said, and they cannot get additional funding if they underestimate the final count, "They all do go a bit on the high side. They want to make sure they're not penalized for funding purposes." Sarasota Military School was one of only three of the nine charter schools in the dis- trict with more students projected for the five-day count, according to the figures. However, all those students from SMA are dual-enrolled at Sarasota County Technical Institute, Weidner said, adding that that situation will prevent SMA from getting full funding for them. The other charter schools with high- er-than-expected enrollment were Suncoast Innovative Studies, with 32; and Sarasota Suncoast Academy, with one. "Overall," Weidner told the board, "we be- lieve we're going to be down 349 students" from the projected total for the 2012-13 school year. The district had estimated a total student population of 41,984. According to the figures Weidner presented to the School Board, the district has hired a total of seven new teachers to comply with the Florida Class Size Amendment, which dictates the maximum number of students allowed in a classroom according to the grade level.

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