Education activists protest potential Suncoast charter school

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SARASOTA – Protect Our Public Schools, also known as POPS, organized a “Vote No on Pinecrest” rally before the meeting where board members made a 4-1 vote not approving Pine Crest Academy Gulf Coast, a proposed K-8 charter school in the Palmer Ranch area.

POPS formed last year.

“Because we became very worried when they saw all sorts of really bad legislation coming out of Tallahassee that was very much pushing the privatization agenda,” said Carol Lerner who is the chair of the organization.

Pinecrest Academy Incorporated manages the now approved charter school assisting them is academic service provider Academica.

“We would like to see the resources going into improving the public school system rather than going into a very wealthy incorporation and that’s the situation we have here,” said Lerner.

POPS members who live in Manatee County worried before the board meeting.

“We have people here from Manatee County who are going to speak out because they know if Academica comes to Sarasota, Manatee County is going to be next,” said Lerner.

Sarasota Superintendent of Schools, Todd Bowden, says

“To see this many people who have an opinion about an item that’s coming before our board as a superintendent that really excites me that we have this many advocates for public education,” said Bowden

The board consists of 5 members, only three votes were needed to approve the school… 4 were in favor of not approving the school.

“The application that they have in front of them has gone through a committee process. The application has been scored. So it’s the job of staff to score those applications and then our elected board will decide if they meet the standards of our district,” said Bowden.

EARLIER VERSION OF THIS STORY THAT SAID THERE WAS A 4-1 VOTE APPROVING THE CHARTER SCHOOL WAS INCORRECT. THIS IS THE CORRECTED STORY.

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Jessika Ward is a Sarasota native and an award-winning multimedia journalist. She joined the Suncoast News Network in February of 2018 and is happy to be back in her hometown. Jessika won three Florida Associated Press Awards while a student at Florida A&M University. Prior to coming to SNN, Jessika interned with WWSB ABC7 and worked as a videographer/editor at WTXL ABC27 in Tallahassee. ​​Jessika Ward is a proud rattler and Historically Black College and University (HBCU) advocate. She shares her HBCU experience in "Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities,” a documentary about the history and future of HBCU's that was presented in the Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS. Jessika's hobbies include photography, watching independent films, watching sports, and reading a good book.

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