NEWBERRY ‒ The measure to convert Newberry public schools to charter schools was brought to a vote in April 2024. The City of Newberry and a group called Newberry Education First requested a vote by classroom teachers and parents on the conversion of Newberry Elementary School, Oak View Middle School and Newberry High School to charter schools beginning with the 2025-26 school year.

After months of rigorous public debate, townhalls, and public campaigning, the parents and teachers at two of the three public schools in Newberry voted down proposed conversions from public schools to charter schools.

The April 17 tallying of votes at the Newberry Municipal Building lasted for several hours and ended in some doubt as to the outcome of the vote for the Newberry Elementary School conversion.

The dispute over whether the elementary school charter conversion achieved enough affirmative ballots was called into question. Based on information from the Florida Department of Education, proponents of the conversation maintain the vote for Newberry Elementary was sufficient to claim victory, and the City of Newberry is working to align ordinances and assist in the charter school application.

Newberry City Manager Mike New on the City Commission meeting on May 28, 2024, reviewed the list of steps the City is going through to develop an ordinance and get the necessary documents in place for the charter school. At one point he said the charter application has 22 parts to the application.

New said they have initiated a process to develop ordinance language establishing the charter school, make-up of the governing board, responsibilities, limitations, etc. anticipating adoption in June.

He said the City has downloaded a copy of the charter application and is reviewing/assigning responsibilities. He said he is working to initiate a process to develop agreements between the City and the Charter holder (a 501(c)3 entity) for the City to prepare/submit a charter school application and to operate the school in accordance with the anticipated charter.

New said further he has solicited proposals from firms with expertise to complete the charter application by August, for submission by September deadline for consideration by the Charter School Review Committee.

He has also received a proposal budget from Education First Newberry and it is under review.

New informed the Commission that he plans to discuss this further at the June 10 City Commission meeting. He also provided a charter application timeline to help commissioners visualize the schedule.

The next Newberry City Commission meeting is June 10.

#     #     #