It is shaping up to be an exciting year for the Marco Island Academy! In an effort to keep the community informed, I would like to share the latest developments in our quest to build a high school on the island.
Charter schools have very specific laws, including very detailed applications, which all start-up institutions must abide by. The Academy has strictly adhered to Florida Statute 1002.33, pertaining to Charter schools, in all decisions and procedures. The Florida Sunshine Laws have been followed, although there is no stipulation for a school’s compliance until a Charter has been granted.
Over the past five months, many highly qualified volunteers have been dedicated to perfecting the 350-plus page charter application that was completed and submitted on August 16. We hope to receive our charter status on or about October 21. Once approved, all systems will be a “go” for filing applications for grants and locations(s).
On our preliminary charter application, we requested Tract K, pursuant to Florida Statute 1002.33(18)(e), for our permanent location. We have had no further discussion with anyone regarding Tract K. Ultimately, it is in the hands of the Collier County School Board to decide how the land will be used. Additionally, we identified a temporary location for portable classrooms on the vacant property adjacent to New Life Community Church on Elkcam Circle. After meeting with Pastor Thomas McCulley and the Board at the church, we agreed to discuss a possible two-year lease. Pursuant to Florida Statute 1002.33(18)(c), a charter school can be located at “a library, community service facility, museum, performing arts facility, theatre, cinema, church, community college, college, or university facility.”
Once we receive our charter status, we will work diligently to get proper zoning and land use approvals as determined by the law on Marco in order to secure this location. An application for a temporary use permit will then be submitted to the City Planning Board.
In the meantime, our options regarding land for both the temporary and permanent site will be kept open as the charter application can be approved without a site for the school.
The school plans to open its doors in August 2011 with modular classrooms for approximately 200-250 students in grades 9 and 10. In the second year, we anticipate 300-375 students in grades 9, 10 and 11. In the third year, we estimate 400-500 students. Once the school is in its permanent location, it will accommodate a maximum of 500 students.
The Marco Island Academy is to be a public charter high school, just as the Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS) is a public charter middle school. Charter schools are, by definition, schools of choice and, as such, are open to all students within a district. The demographics/diversity are projected to mirror the MICMS.
The Charter application follows a model application for Florida Charter Schools. Section 13 in the model is titled, “Parent and Community Support and Partnerships.” In this section we mention the local advisory board in detail. We also include a marketing plan that shows how we have been informing the community about the plans for the Academy. While this is not required, we think it is important to educate the community about the project and include them in our plan.
The Marco Island Discovery Center (MIDC), the fundraising arm of the Marco Island Academy, has been planning fundraising events to move the Marco Island Academy forward as scheduled. Currently, we are working on our October 16 fundraiser, when we will proudly announce our affiliation with our newest member of our National Advisory Board, Frank Conrad Russen of The Englishman, Fine Art and Antique Gallery. At that time, we will also announce the addition of the newest components of the Marco Island Academy.
We are offering costume jewelry donated by Jewels in our office at the Esplanade, as part of an ongoing fundraiser with all proceeds going to the MIDC for the school. The jewelry is proving to be quite a crowd gatherer as people are now visiting our office to shop.
So stop by to shop, chat, or both. All volunteers are more than happy to answer questions. Or, for further questions or comments, please contact us at 239-970-0390, or visit our website at www.marcoislandacademy.com .