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Local News: New Charter School in the St. Cloud Area

The St. Cloud Preparatory Academy is opening its doors for the 2014/2015 school season. This K-8 school will be located at the corner of Budinger Avenue and Nolte Road and will be able to enroll up to 600 students.  Not only will the school focus on academic development, but they have plans for plenty of extra-curricular activities designed to encourage a child’s creativity and imagination.  These include woodworking, cooking and swimming classes.

Existing charter schools

Although the district has multiple charter schools, the St. Cloud Preparatory Academy is only the second located directly in the city limits of St. Cloud. The other is Canoe Creek Charter Academy, which also educates students up through the 8th grade.

What is a charter school?

Charter schools, although associated with a traditional school district, are run on a very different type of business model.  Traditional schools do have some local authority, but generally follow state guidelines and rules.  If traditional schools do not make the grade, change is usually slow and immediate accountability may not be seen.

Charter schools, on the other hand, are wholly run at the local level.  Change can be made quickly and if the school doesn’t meet minimum standards, the school can be disbanded relatively swiftly.  They are freer to choose alternate educational methods that can be tailored to individual students and they are freer to create schools with themed approaches, such as a school geared towards the study of sciences, arts or technologies.

Florida charter school information

Charter schools have grown in overwhelming numbers in the past ten years.   In Florida, charter school enrollment went from 67,000 students in 2003 to over 203,000 students in 2012.  That’s amazing growth statistic.

Most of these schools are extremely successful and very few have actually been closed.  Charter schools have a diverse population of students and represent many different cultures and backgrounds.

Why choose a charter school?

Parents choose charter schools over traditional schools for a myriad of reasons.  However, one of the benefits of charter schools is that, in Florida, they are tuition-free public schools and don’t cost the tax-paying parents private school tuition.  Other reasons include:

* Kids are not one-size fits all.  Many traditional schools use a traditional approach to learning.  They expect a child to sit quietly in the classroom, listen to the teacher and recite back the facts.  Unfortunately, this standard model doesn’t work with every child.  Charter schools often provide a more inter-active approach to learning that works better with some children.

* Parents like that some schools are theme-oriented.  If a child shows a strong interest in the arts or the sciences, parents can help their child get a jump start on specialized education in his area of interest.

* Parents like that charter schools are directly accountable for student results.  This means that a teacher who is not performing well in school won’t be kept as a teacher for long.  It also means that a curriculum or program that doesn’t meet desired goals can be easily disbanded in favor of one that will work better.

The creation of the St. Cloud Preparatory Academy will provide more choice for local parents of young children.

18 Jun

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