District-Charter Collaboration Takes Root in Florida

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

District-Charter Collaboration Takes Root in Florida

As collaboration between districts and charter schools ebbs and flows in the now 21 cities that signed Compacts with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, new relationships are forming in Florida. Uniquely, the state department of education itself has decided to spearhead a competitive grant process. They’ve placed a particular focus on drawing charter networks to neighborhoods most in need of new quality school options. In fall 2014 four school districts entered proposals in a competitive process and two of them, Duval County (Jacksonville) and Miami-Dade County Schools were awarded collaboration grants earlier this year. Although both included a focus on improving their authorizing practices, the grants also reflect local priorities. Duval aims to collaborate with KIPP Jacksonville as they both implement personalized learning. Miami-Dade aims to work the charter sector on alternative education, including the creation high-performing charter school(s) for grades 6-8 in Miami’s urban inner core.

Florida’s efforts could offer lessons for collaboration in other places. The department recently announced a second round of grantmaking to bring at least one of seven eligible districts aboard in 2016. Orange, Hillsborough and Polk have expressed interest in applying. As Adam Miller, leader of the department’s school choice office, told RedefinED last fall, “By having multiple districts, we’ll see multiple strategies and we can really assess which ones are working best and which ones aren’t working.” Likewise, state-supported efforts could help sustain collaboration, driving legislative changes to make the sharing of resources easier, or overcoming local challenges such as leadership turnover. Over the next two years CRPE will monitor and support the work in all the awarded districts and provide feedback to the state office as well. CRPE will explore whether or not the grant’s focus on bringing outside CMO’s to the state is broad and bold enough to address the districts’ quality schools supply problem and whether there are levers to be explored at the state and local level to catalyze cross-sector solutions on behalf of students.

Additionally, CRPE researchers Sarah Yatsko and Sean Gill will be in Orlando at the Florida Charter Schools Conference, November 10-12, 2015 to present on district-charter collaboration. If you’re in the Sunshine State, we hope to see you there!

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