Some of Florida’s lowest-performing traditional public schools will have to wait a bit longer to find out if they’ll be among the 25 schools that will get financial help through a new state program called “Schools of Hope.”
The State Board of Education was supposed to meet in Tallahassee on Wednesday to select the recipients out of the 57 eligible schools that applied.
But, like so much else in Florida this week, Hurricane Irma derailed those plans.
The board met instead by conference call on Wednesday, and it left a decision on the “Hope” schools for another day.
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Meghan Collins, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education, said she didn’t have information yet on when the board might next convene so it can select the program’s recipients.
The board is next scheduled to meet Oct. 18 in Jacksonville.
The plan had been for the schools to be chosen by Oct. 1, so that the money awarded could begin helping children this school year.
The chosen schools will receive up to $2,000 per student, under “Schools of Hope.” The goal is to help traditional public schools pay for additional wrap-around services and other creative means to promote student learning and community engagement and, ultimately, improve the school’s standing.
The other — more controversial — part of the $140 million program hasn’t been implemented yet. For it, charter school operators will apply for financial incentives so they can set up competing schools near as many as 93 failing ones, potentially supplanting them with privately run charters.
The charter incentives were the original intent of the “Schools of Hope” program, but in a late-session rewrite, House Republicans agreed to add a component that would provide aid to existing traditional public schools.
Five eligible traditional public schools in Miami-Dade applied for the program, as did three in Broward County. Should their schools be awarded “Hope” dollars, both county school districts propose to use some of the money toward teacher bonuses.
“Schools of Hope” narrowly passed the Legislature in May through a controversial education bill known as House Bill 7069. At least 11 county school districts — including Broward and Miami-Dade — plan to sue and challenge the constitutionality of the law. (No lawsuit has yet been filed.)
The “Hope” aid to traditional public schools isn’t among the districts’ qualms. Their concerns largely involve what they view as limitations on the power of locally elected school boards and additional freedoms the law grants to charter schools, which are outside of the boards’ control.