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Charter school will expand

The Academy of Environmental Science "has come a long way.''

Published December 19, 2006


CRYSTAL RIVER - The number of students at the Academy of Environmental Science has grown so large that the school must add another classroom.

Ben Stofcheck, the academy's director and lead teacher, recently told the School Board that more classroom space is needed to accommodate the burgeoning student population, which reached 70 this semester.

"We need space," he said. "We're real tight."

Only a year ago, the county's lone charter school was having trouble recruiting enough students. There were about 35 students enrolled in the spring.

This semester, the number of students doubled after a decision by the board of directors to welcome ninth-graders for the first time.

Unlike sophomores, juniors and seniors, who take classes at the academy for one term and return to their home schools for the other term, the freshmen stay the entire year.

Stofcheck and other academy officials don't see the space crunch as a problem but a healthy sign that the academy is thriving under new leadership.

At last week's School Board meeting, students named a few of the reasons that they were drawn to the academy: small classes, engaging teachers, hands-on work and, of course, field trips to Sea World and the gulf.

"We learn and have fun at the same time," one student said.

The academy staff is capping enrollment for the upcoming spring semester.

The 26 freshmen put the academy at capacity for that grade level.

Including freshmen, 65 students have registered for the new term. There is a waiting list for juniors.

The school has plans to convert a second-story floor into a classroom. When it opens next fall, the classroom will accommodate an additional 22 students.

The district staff has already visited the school and given the project approval.

"The school has come a long way," said Carl Hansen, the academy's board chairman.

Eddy Ramirez can be reached at 860-7305 or




[Last modified December 19, 2006, 00:47:07]

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