In 2002 Berkley Elementary became a conversion charter school and now operates under the name Berkley Charter School.
In 2004 Berkley Accelerated Middle School was started under a start up charter.
The following is information about conversion charters and start up charters.
Charter schools are public schools operating under a performance contract or “charter” freeing them from a number of rules and regulations created for traditional public schools. As part of the contract between the charter school and the public school system, charter schools are held strictly accountable for academic and financial results.
Start Up Charter
A start up charter is a school that did not exist prior to becoming a charter school. Parents, community members, and business partners often start these brand new schools. They may offer a specialized curriculum or serve a specific student population.
A conversion charter, such as Berkley Elementary, is an existing public school that converts to charter school status. This process requires the support of a majority of teachers and students at a school, the submittal and approval of a charter application by the local school board (Polk County School Board), and the negotiation of a charter contract. Final approval is voted on by the school board after a public hearing.
Who is eligible to attend a conversion charter school?
First priority is given to students who are currently enrolled in the school and will be returning to the school. **Charter schools must comply with racial balance requirements.
How are students selected to attend a charter school?
Any student who wishes to attend a charter school must turn in an application. If the number of students who apply is greater than the number of available seats, students have an equal chance of being admitted during a random selection process.
Are there special costs or requirements to attend a charter school?
Charter schools may not charge students to attend the school. Some charter schools do require parents and students to sign contracts and have dismissal policies with regard to academic performance, attendance, and behavior.
Will my child still have to take the FCAT?
Yes. Students at charter schools are not exempt from standardized testing requirements. They must meet the FCAT requirements for graduation and promotion.
Who determines how money is spent at a charter school?
Each charter’s governing board must annually approve a budget for that school. The budget must be balanced based on appropriate revenue projections and reflect generally accepted standards of fiscal management. Five percent of the dollars generated by the first 500 students is returned to the sponsoring school district (Polk County). There are specific services the school board must provide in return for these dollars. The remainder of the budget is used to meet all of the operational needs of the school. This includes salary and benefits of staff, electricity, telephones, supplies, etc.