Florida education officials have selected three school districts for a pilot grant program aimed at increasing collaboration between districts and charter schools.
Districts across the country have sought to forge such ties, but as I reported in a recent story, Florida’s effort is unique because it’s being led by the state.
Miami-Dade, Broward, and Duval County schools will be awarded about $665,000 each to get their collaboration initiatives kicked off, according to the Florida Department of Education.
The ultimate goal is to help these counties entice high-performing national charter school networks into the state’s largest urban districts, as I wrote in October when Florida’s department of education was soliciting grant applications:
The idea for Florida's new program grew out of a 2013 summit held to examine why the state wasn't reeling in more of the large, nationally high-profile charter franchises such as YES Prep Public Schools, Uncommon Schools, and the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP. The meeting included superintendents, state leaders, and representatives from some of those charter school networks. With limited resources and demand from other states, the large national networks have shied away from Florida because there are better opportunities in other states. 'One of the take-aways was [that] one of the things lacking in Florida was this systemic collaborative approach between charters and districts," said [Adam Miller, the director of the Florida education department's school choice office]. "And there was a desire from both operators and districts on how we could build upon some of the collaborations that were taking place across the country.' "
Currently, KIPP is the only large, multi-state network in Florida, and it runs a single campus in Jacksonville.
But what do these district-charter collaborations actually look like or do?
In Denver, the district and charters are working together to create specialized programs for students with severe disabilities. The district is helping fund the centers which will be housed within charter schools.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis school district and several local KIPP schools are trading building space from the former for student achievement numbers from the latter. Both groups have also agreed to open up their professional development and training programs to one another.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.