Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Parents Proposing to Open Arts-Based Charter School

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Parents Proposing to Open Arts-Based Charter School

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

Thirty Jacksonville parents, whose ranks include a college professor, financial planner, golf pro and public health administrator, plan to open an arts-based charter school in 2007. And they're seeking others to get involved in its development.

The project was started by a west Beaches resident who put a similar school together while living in San Diego.

"When I moved here in September of 2004, I told some people about it, and they said 'let's get one started here,' " said Danielle Benedict of San Pablo Road, who home-schools her daughters Mikaela, 8, and Katerina, 7.

Creative Minds Academy will be a kindergarten through sixth-grade school with the location yet to be decided but probably east of Florida 9A on the Southside or near the Intracoastal Waterway. It will combine the creative arts with Montessori and Waldorf teaching methods, which emphasize hands-on activities, exploration and creativity.

"It will be a personalized education plan where each child is taught according to their learning style rather than having to adapt to one teaching style," Benedict said.

Charter schools were authorized by the Legislature in 1996 to provide competition for public schools. Since then, their numbers in Florida have grown from five to about 300 in 2004-05.

They are funded with tax dollars but are run by non-profit groups that can try innovative strategies and are free from many of the rules imposed on traditional public schools.

Though the Duval County School Board closed three charter schools last year for earning two failing grades from the state over four years, Creative Minds organizers said they are not dissuaded. Parental involvement will be a key component, they said, with parents required to volunteer five hours a week. …

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