By: Travis Pillow
Governor’s Charter Academy opens
The opening was marked by a visit from Gov. Scott
12:31 AM, Sep 20, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott paid his second visit in less than a week to a newly opened Tallahassee charter school on Wednesday.
The Governor’s Charter Academy opened its doors this year to students in kindergarten through sixth grades and will eventually include up to eighth grade. The school also hosted the governor last Friday as part of his statewide education listening tour.
The school used Scott’s visit to show off its innovative features — its open floor plan and glass-walled classrooms, its high-tech equipment, rigorous curriculum and active parents.
“The No. 1 thing that makes a child successful is an involved parent,” said Jon Hage, the president of Charter Schools USA, the company that operates the school as well as others around the state.
There are a few reasons why parents at the new school are highly involved. They each made active choices to enroll their children at the charter school, which has students from all over Leon County, and to some extent, it’s required. Parents sign a contract pledging to volunteer at least 20 hours during an academic year, and 30 if they have more than one child.
There are more than 560 students enrolled at the school, and its size could nearly double in the future as its middle school expands. The school’s impact on the Leon County School district, coupled with the involvement of a company from outside the county, caused consternation among the school board as they begrudgingly approved the application for the school to open.
Superintendent Jackie Pons said once the school’s management group, Renaissance Charter School, agreed to a March 1 application deadline that will allow the district to set its enrollment numbers for future years, they were able to resolve their differences.
“Having a good relationship with our charter schools in very important to us,” he said, adding: “I don’t think you can be afraid of competition. We’re a good school district. We have a lot to offer. They’re still under our guidance.
Hage said the company has improved its relationship with the district. As he introduced Scott, he noted that not all charter schools are alike, and that while space is limited, the Governor’s Charter is open to every child in the county.
Located on Mahan Drive just east of Capital Circle, the school, a short drive from the state’s Capitol, serves as a three-dimensional advertisement for the company. On Wednesday, it provided a backdrop for the governor to tout his education agenda.
“Choice — that’s what parents want,” Scott said. “Competition’s going to make us all better. It does it in sports. It’s clearly going to do it in education.”