Imagine School gains School Board’s nod to expand upon conditions

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Indian River County School Board has agreed not to appeal the approved expansion of Imagine Schools at South Vero, provided the charter school agrees to three conditions.

The board voted 4-1 during a special meeting Tuesday to approve the negotiated agreement with the charter and not pursue appealing the Florida Board of Education’s approval of adding grades seven and eight to Imagine Schools.

School Board member Debbie MacKay was the lone nay vote. She did not address the reasons for her vote during the meeting.

The conditions would redefine the charter as a kindergarten through grade eight, require the school to adopt the district’s forthcoming desegregation plan as all charters would be required, and extend the school’s contract to the end of the 2013-14 school year.

School Board Attorney Usher “Larry” Brown told the board after the vote that he would contact Imagine Schools’ attorney Tuesday to notify her of the board’s decision. He said he would notify the board members once he received a response from her.

As part of the approval of adding the two grades to the charter, Imagine Schools at South Vero has agreed to cap school enrollment at 970, after eighth grade is added in the 2011-12 school year.

“While this is 110 students less than what the Charter School originally requested, the Charter School is willing to make this concession in the spirit of cooperation,” wrote Imagine Schools’ attorney, Melissa Gross-Arnold.

Seventh grade will be added this fall, giving current sixth grade students an opportunity to stay at the school.

Details pertaining to how grades seven and eight would be filled were not immediately available. School Board members had considered allowing only those students who are already enrolled at Imagine Schools to move up to the seventh – and later the eighth – grade.

Parents had asked the School Board to consider allowing those students who had left the charter because of the uncertainty surrounding the upper grades and those students who have siblings attending the charter.

Attempts to reach Imagine Schools at South Vero’s principal, Joe Mills, Tuesday afternoon were not successful. However, when the School Board announced in late March that it would try to work out an agreement with the charter rather than appeal, Mills expressed relief and was hopeful that an agreement could be reached.

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