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District recommends school be closed

Despite changes at the Language Academy, the superintendent still says it should close.

By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK
Published April 13, 2007


LAND O'LAKES - After months spent reviewing documents, the Pasco school district's recommendation for the Language Academy charter school remains the same: Shut it down.

That's despite the recent change in leadership, a newly hired bookkeeper and fresh guidance from a new financial adviser.

"The school has failed to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management," superintendent Heather Fiorentino wrote in a memorandum to the School Board, which will take up the issue Tuesday. "Additionally, the school has failed to meet the terms of its charter in the areas of governance, insurance, exceptional student education and academic accountability."

If the board approves, the charter school would have time to appeal the decision to the state. The School Board has threatened to shutter the school since August, when financial concerns first arose.

The school's leaders have indicated they will fight.

That's not all the charter news coming out of the school district.

Fiorentino also is recommending that the board deny a request from the Athenian Academy of Pasco to expand into sixth grade and add 44 students to its total enrollment. The elementary school is in its first year of operation and has space to add two more classrooms.

It has not, however, come close to meeting its current enrollment cap of 180. It had a full-time equivalent enrollment of 106 this year.

Fiorentino's rationale for wanting to reject the expansion was not in the set of documents released Thursday. The administrators who could explain were in meetings and could not be reached for comment.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or toll-free 1-800-333-7505 ext. 4614. For more education news, visit The Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.