Parents of school-age children in Volusia and Flagler counties may be able to choose from a greater pool of schools in the 2012-2013 school year.
The districts received applications this week from three new charter schools that would serve students with a range of needs and interests.
Charter schools are public schools that perform under contracts with local school districts. This frees them from some of the regulations for traditional schools but charter schools are responsible for their academic and financial performance.
Applications were due Monday for charter schools that intend to open for the 2012-2013 school year. Volusia received applications from Richard Milburn Academy of Florida, which caters to struggling students, and Florida Virtual Academy, which would offer online courses.
Richard Milburn Academy of Florida, which already operates high school programs in Daytona Beach and DeLand, applied to add a middle school program to its East Volusia site.
Like the high school programs, the middle school would serve students who have struggled to succeed in traditional schools.
“We don’t want their ‘A’ students. We want those kids who need a little extra help getting out (of middle school),” said Sam Smith, director of Milburn’s Daytona Beach program. “We could save a lot of kids.”
If approved, the charter middle school would share the Daytona Beach campus. The proposal calls for it to serve up to 100 students in the 2012-13 year and grow to 300 students within four years.
Richard Milburn Academy operates four other Florida charter schools outside Volusia County and has graduated more than 1,425 students since 2001. It has eight schools in Texas.
Florida Virtual Academy already operates online schools in Louisiana, Arizona and Idaho, according to its Volusia application. It proposes to serve 500 students in kindergarten through ninth grade and then add a grade a year in Volusia, growing to more than 1,000 students by the fifth year.
Flagler received an application from Global Outreach Charter Academy of Palm Coast, which would offer Russian language instruction to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Paul Bratulin is helping a group of parents in Palm Coast, where there is a relatively large Russian population, start the school. Bratulin is one of the founders of Global Outreach Charter Academy in Jacksonville, which follows a similar model.
Students would receive core instruction in English and would not need prior Russian language knowledge. Most of the Jacksonville students are not native Russian speakers, he said.
The school “will provide a unique choice for parents within the Flagler public school system, giving students access to a comprehensive educational program that emphasizes early foreign language acquisition,” according to the application.
The application estimates the school will enroll as many as 364 students the first year and up to 728 by the third year. About 20 percent could be English language learners and 80 percent would be eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.
The school boards in the two counties have 60 days to decide whether to approve the charters.