North Miami city leaders are exploring the possibility of opening a charter school.
The proposed high school would serve as a public-safety academy that offers classes in criminal justice and police and firefighter training on the western portion of Claude Pepper Park, 1355 NW 135th St .
“We envision partnering with Miami Dade College so that upon graduating, the students will have 30 or 40 credit hours toward those particular programs,” City Manager Stephen Johnson said.
For now, it’s still a dream.
North Miami first needs to get approval from the Miami-Dade County School Board. So far, the city has spent $20,000 in its quest for a charter school — $15,000 for a feasibility study and a $5,000 application fee.
But the city may face at least one complication.
In 2006, North Miami signed an interlocal agreement with the school board when Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High and David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Center were built on city land east of Biscayne Boulevard.
In the agreement, there is a provision that says North Miami cannot seek or approve any charter school within the city’s limits that competes with the two schools as long as the lease with the school board is active.
Johnson said he does not feel the city would be in violation of the interlocal agreement because the charter school the city wants to build would not compete with the two schools.
“This is an academy that is geared toward a magnet program. The curriculum is very specific. It will be a public-safety academy, sort of like the one in the city of Miami that is for police,” Johnson said, referring to Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial High School.
John Schuster, a spokesman for the school district, would not say whether the city was in violation of the interlocal agreement.
“If an application for a charter school is received, the interlocal agreement will be considered in evaluating the application,” Schuster wrote in an email.
If the school board approves the charter school application, Johnson said the academy would provide a much-needed alternative for students who live on the west side of the city that attend Miami Central High School outside of the city’s boundaries.
Councilwoman Marie Steril, who represents the district where the school would be built, said she would like to see a school on the west side of the city.
“It is of my primary concern that students in my district have the opportunity to attend high school in their own city,” she said in a statement. “Children growing up in North Miami should have the chance to attend high school in North Miami.”