Tallahassee Community College (TCC) will be one of five Florida community colleges establishing charter schools. TCC charter school is a part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to afford high school students the opportunity to “gain credentials in high-demanding fields” as they work toward obtaining their high school diploma.
DeSantis announced on Feb. 3 that he will invest $2 million into TCC for the establishment of the community college’s charter school. This announcement came as a surprise to Leon County Schools (LCS) Superintendent Rocky Hanna and the LCS school board.
“The Charter school announcement took us by surprise, and we are still looking into all the details on how it will impact our school district,” said LCS Communications Coordinator Chris Petley in a statement sent to the FAMUAN.
Historically, Superintendent Hanna has not been in favor of the addition of charter schools to the Leon County School district. In 2018 he blocked the addition of two charter schools and expressed his distaste for them, having stated that charter schools negatively impacted traditional schools.
“In good conscience, I cannot recommend the approval of these charter schools. That sounds like it’s an endorsement of the program. If we start opening mom and pop schools on every corner, we’re going to slowly bleed our traditional schools to death, said Hanna in a 2018 interview with the Tallahassee Democrat.
Hanna’s stance has remained unchanged, and according to Tallahassee Reports, Leon County School officials share his sentiments. During the LCS Board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Director of Lively Technical College, Shelly Bell, expressed her concerns about the negative impact TCC’s charter school will have on the current schools in Leon County.
“Like a gut punch to Leon Schools… it will impact our schools,” said Bell during the Tuesday meeting.
The LCS Board questions the necessity of TCC’s charter school. The board claims Leon County already offers opportunities like those that will be offered at the TCC charter school. For example, James Rickards High has a Welding program, and students attending Leon High can participate in the schools’ culinary program.
“We believe our district already provides career and technical pathways for Leon County Students,” said Petley.
Although the Leon County School Board will meet at a later date to further discuss the impact of TCC’s charter school, the community college will begin construction on their high school without the board’s approval.