When the school year is complete, Life Skills Center East in Winter Haven will cease to exist.
This comes after Polk County School District officials placed the alternative school on a one-year probationary contract earlier this year following concerns that White Hat Management, the school's Ohio-based management company, doesn't spend enough money in the classroom.
White Hat recently sent a letter to district officials informing them of its plans to close the school but did not give a reason why, said Carolyn Bridges, the district's senior director of magnet, choice and charter schools. She suggested the reason may be the district's strict requirements that are part of the one-year agreement…
In February, a charter review committee voted 14-1 not to renew the school's contract. After protests from students and faculty, the School Board decided in March to give Life Skills another chance.
Some of the issues district officials had concerns with were:
Money spent in the classroom dropped from 37 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2009. State lawmakers have said 65 percent of the money coming from the state should be spent in the classroom.
Currently, only three people are on the Life Skills board. Polk School Board member Tim Harris said Life Skills' board needs more members and should meet more often. District officials are concerned Life Skills' board is not involved enough in managing the school.
Of the 72 English language learning students, only one earned a diploma, according to figures from the charter review board.
The school's financial statement needs to be clearer. The charter review board said financial statements do not indicate specifically how money is spent.
This is the second Life Skills location to close in Polk. In 2008, Life Skills Center in Lakeland also was given a one-year probationary contract to improve its standing with the district.
Board members eventually voted to sever the contract with the Lakeland school. They criticized the low graduation rate and the lack of verification for class requirements.
The Lakeland site also charged the state $101,000 for students it didn't have but eventually paid it back, according to district officials. The Lakeland location closed in June, 2009…
The problem with Life Skills, which operates nine schools statewide, isn't unique to Polk. In May, the Pinellas County School District refused to renew a contract with one of two Life Skills centers there for academic reasons, said Dot Clark, administrator for charter schools…
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Life Skills Center East
LIFE SKILLS CENTER IN WINTER HAVEN TO CLOSE AT END OF SCHOOL YEAR; CLASSES WILL CONTINUE THROUGH ACADEMIC YEAR; SCHOOL IS ON ONE-YEAR PROBATION CONTRACT, October 9, 2010, The Ledger (Lakeland, FL)