Lee County has 96 district schools and 24 charters. Three more charters have made application and want to open in 2020. Here’s the problem: Lee County has 24 charters with a capacity for 19,754 students yet only 11,470 seats are filled. That leaves 8,284 empty charter seats across the district. Where’s the need for three new charter schools? Why are we spending tax dollars to go into debt over empty charter school seats?
According to the News Press, the Lee County School Board is aware of the problem of low enrollment in their charter schools.
“The school board briefly talked about the proposed charter schools during a recent meeting. Jeff McCullers, the school district’s charter school liaison, mentioned the applicants are trying to open charter schools at a time when the student population at charter schools is down. The current student population at charter schools ranges from a low of 10 students at Athenian Academy Charter School to a high of 1,288 students at Bonita Springs Charter School.
But McCullers said whether there is a need for a charter school is not among the reasons the board can use to deny a request to open a charter school. “We can’t say, ‘Well, we already have six or seven alternative high schools. How many more can we support?'” McCullers said. “That’s a market question. That’s up to the applicant to decide if they want to take that risk.””
Doesn’t McCullers have this exactly wrong? It’s not about how much the “market can support’ if taxpayers are funding all these empty seats. WE are the ones shouldering all the risk, not the charter schools who can close up shop and walk away often with financial gain to corporate management. These charter “applicants” are burning our money, not theirs.
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Lee County, FL Charter Schools – 24
- Acceleration Middle School (Closing as of June 30, 2019)
- Athenian Academy Charter School
- Bonita Springs Charter School
- Cape Coral Charter School
- Christa McAuliffe Charter Elementary School
- City of Palms Charter High School
- Coronado High School
- Donna J. Beasley Technical Academy
- Florida Southwestern Collegiate High School – Lee
- Gateway Charter Elementary School
- Gateway Charter Intermediate School
- Gateway Charter High School
- Harlem Heights Community Charter School
- Island Park High School
- The Island School
- North Nicholas High School
- Northern Palms Charter High School
- Oak Creek Charter School of Bonita Springs
- Oasis Charter Elementary School
- Oasis Charter Middle School
- Oasis Charter High School
- Palm Acres Charter High School
- Six Mile Charter Academy
- Unity Charter School of Cape Coral