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Sarasota County School Board rejects Pinecrest Charter School

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - "I was very pleased with the school board's decision," said Martha Karlovetz, a retired teacher.

Karlovetz is thrilled with the Sarasota County School Board's decision to not allow the Pinecrest Academy K-8 Charter School to be built in the Palmer Ranch area of Sarasota.

"Anytime that public money is going to for profit enterprises, I think that we're detracting from what we do for public education," said Karlovetz.  "Sarasota has excellent schools and we need to keep them that way."

Prior to the school board's meeting on Tuesday, many concerned people protested outside of the school board headquarters.  The group is fighting the privatization of schools, mainly because they say corporate charter schools such as Pinecrest and academic service provider Academica are in the education business just to make money.

"We would like to see the money going into the traditional schools, they're great here but they can be a lot better," said Carol Lerner, Chair of Protect Our Public Schools Manasota.

The school board voted 4 to 1 to deny Pinecrest's application.  Board Chair Bridget Ziegler was the lone vote who was in support of the charter school. Pinecrest has charter schools statewide and are planning on opening many more in the near future.

"I do have a lot of concerns about it, first of all it's an excellent application, so they did their due diligence and we're supposed to vote on these 19 issues in the application," said Jane Goodwin, Vice Chair of the Sarasota County School Board.  "So I do have concerns about some of these things happening statewide."

Folks from the Pinecrest board were not happy with the Sarasota County School Board's decision.  In a statement we received from Pinecrest Academy, in part it says "Pinecrest Academy board members were present at the meeting as requested by Sarasota Schools and were not given the opportunity to address the issues that were discussed.  Our board will meet to discuss the next step's in connection to today's meeting."

The decision can be appealed at the state level or another application can be filed with the Sarasota County School District.

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