While Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna is strongly opposed to charter schools, a new charter school is in the works in Tallahassee and several other charter schools appear to be well entrenched in the local landscape.
The local charter schools include Governors Charter Academy, which has approximately 500 students, the School of Arts and Sciences at the Centre with 200 students, the School of Arts and Sciences on Thomasville with 446 enrolled and the Tallahassee School of Math and Science.
They are located in the north and east sides of Tallahassee and offer transportation for students whose parents don’t have the mobility to get them back and forth.
The oldest charter school in Leon County is Steele-Collins Charter Middle School, which is run by Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and the Rev. R. B. Holmes, Jr.
Steele-Collins was founded in 1996 and closed down in 2014. The church still owns the property, but hasn’t moved forward with any plans for it.
These schools are all tuition free, but the process of being accepted into the school is a little more tedious than enrolling in a regular public school.
There are applications to complete and the possibility of being put on a waiting list.
When asked to identify a benefit to enrolling their child in a charter school, Monique Thomsen, a Tallahassee School of Math and Science staff member, said, “If a parent is zoned for a school that is not rated ‘A,’ then that parent can enroll their child in a charter school. There are no zoning requirements and where you live doesn’t restrict your child.”
Currently, TSMS has an enrollment of 415 students. The school is leveled from kindergarten to eighth grade, meaning that the classes are small and intimate so that every child receives the amount of attention desired.
The School of Arts and Sciences at the Centre and Thomasville have made a promise that their schools will offer a unique and innovative learning environment. Students will participate in hands-on activities that will push their progression in academics and testing.
“I made the decision to look into charter schools for my daughter after I felt that it was going to guarantee her the best possible public education. The School of Arts and Sciences at Thomasville really gave her the opportunity to succeed and I regret nothing at all,” said Sarah Cunningham, the mother of a former Thomasville student.
Governors Charter Academy states that its mission is to provide an inspiring and motivating educational environment. They have programs and services that increases students’ willingness to participate and be open to becoming the best version of them possible.
Amy Reynolds, Governors Charter’s principal, said, “Our ultimate goal for students is for each student to reach their highest goals and succeed academically, socially and emotionally.”
Reynolds added that there are many plans for children and parents to become more comfortable with the system of the school that will benefit the student overall. “What makes Governors Charter stand out includes personal learning plans, parental involvement and the Cambridge program, which is a program designed by Cambridge University that challenges students with real-worlds problems starting at kindergarten.”
In 2017, Imagine School at Evening Rose closed its doors permanently. After opening in 2008, the Leon County School Board discontinued its charter agreement with the school due to its poor performance as a charter school. Because the school had only 167 students, its closing didn’t affect enrollment in other schools.
Tallahassee Classical School is a new charter school that is scheduled to be up and running by the beginning of the 2019 school year. It will begin as a K-8 school, then eventually branch into an all-grade school. If the school’s application is accepted after its due date of Feb. 1, the building process will begin.