Florida's Charter School Movement Gets Boost From State Leaders

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Panama City- With close to 180,000 students enrolled in charter school statewide this year, there's no denying the charter school movement is growing. And with a new State Board of Education plan released Tuesday, it appears that trend will continue.

"The goal is to increase the high expectations, high achievement students throughout the state of Florida," said Bay Haven Charter Academy CEO Dr. Tim Kitts.

Kitts, an outspoken charter advocate, said simply put the new proposals prove charter schools must be doing something right.

"Their decision is being based upon the fact charter schools are increasing their success in student achievement. If they see that success continually increasing over the years, then the State Board of Education is going to go, 'Hey we're going that direction," said Dr. Kitts.

Bay Haven is at capacity this year, but even Kitts admitted not every school is like Bay Haven. Close to 150 have closed over the years across Florida because of academic or financial problems. Some critics even claim they're destroying the traditional public school system.

"Districts and charter schools need to work together. Get outside of the old institutional bureaucracy," said Kitts.

Bay County has seen its fair share of charter school growth in recent years, and although school district officials have admitted it makes for some difficulties, they agreed with the new plan's bottom line.

"That's great. I'm all about students and offering opportunities for choice," said Carra Summers, Bay School District Instructional Specialist for Student Services.

By 2018, the Board of Education's goal is to add more than 300 charter school statewide, increasing enrollment to upwards of 360,000 charter school students.

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