Development agency files charter application
gears are in motion for a charter school sponsored by Miami's Downtown
Development Authority that could accept students as early as August
sites are under consideration: a plot adjacent to Bayside Marketplace,
behind the Hard Rock Cafe; a vacant lot north of the City of Miami
Administration Building on Southwest Second Avenue and the Miami River,
and a site in the Government Center area next to the City of Miami
police station on Northwest Second Avenue.
have already started to inquire about the school, said Alfonso Menendez,
the development authority's chief of staff.
among our own staff, several people are interested," he said.
"We have parents who have problems with getting their kids to
school. They are very interested in this."
through the weekend, authority staffers met an Oct. 1 deadline to
apply for the school, which the authority's directors endorsed last
always said we wanted to be facilitators for this," board member
Carlos Migoya said.
don't want to own the school we don't want the liability,"
said Miami Commissioner Willy Gort, authority chairman. But the authority
has accepted responsibility for filing the application and moving
the project forward.
Bayside site for the school is preferred because it offers easier
access to the central business district, "which is more geared
to the east than to the west," Mr. Gort said.
of site selection and a prospective budget can be resolved now that
the application is filed.
a timely filing is important, said Joaquin G. Avino, president of
Charter Schoolhouse Developers Inc., which will manage the school
for the development authority, because "any delay results in
the opening being delayed for a full year, since it is not an option
to open a charter school after the school year has commenced."
he said, a site would have to be set before the charter application
is ruled on next spring. If Miami-Dade schools and the State of Florida
approve it next spring, the school should open for the 2002-03 school
Schoolhouse Developers, winner of a bid competition to run the school,
also manages a charter school at Ryder Systems Inc. in West Dade,
Mr. Avino said.
it comes to fruition, the downtown school would be run along similar
lines: while it would officially be under the jurisdiction of the
Miami-Dade County Public School Board, its management could be tailored
to the requirements of parents whose children are enrolled there.
for teachers' salaries and other operational costs is allocated by
Miami-Dade schools based on how many students enroll full time. The
school system withholds 5% of the money for administrative expenses.
downtown charter school is envisioned with a capacity of 500 students
in grades K-5. At the Ryder school, which is similar in student population,
a 30,000-square-foot building serves as the campus. A space of about
that size at Bayside, Mr. Avino said, would suffice, assuming a safe
space could be arranged in Bayfront Park for children to exercise
Downtown Development Authority will create a nonprofit corporation
for the charter school and will be responsible for securing the site.
order for the project to be economically viable, the site must be
made available to us by the DDA," Mr. Avino said in a letter
to Patti Allen, the authority's executive director. "The Bayside
and the Riverside sites are both under the ownership in some fashion
of the City of Miami and the DDA needs to acquire control of the site
or sites by either a transfer or long-term lease, i.e., 90 years."
"We've got to drive the process," agreed board member Jack
whole idea is to be flexible," Mr. Avino said. "You're working
within the same standards but you're able to have a lot more control.
The overall education system is in the midst of a major transformation.
Charter schools are on the forefront of that."
Downtown Development Authority, (305) 579-6675; Charter Schoolhouse
Developers, (305) 668-2200.