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In the News! Parrish charter school submits plans for a major expansion to handle growth

Shared from Bradenton Herald. Read full article at:

Little students make their way outside at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Parrish Charter Academy in 2019. Tiffany Tompkins

Parrish Charter Academy, which opened in 2019 with an enrollment of about 200 in kindergarten through second grade, is planning its next phase of development. The tuition-free school, at 8605 Erie Road, has grown rapidly. It has an enrollment of 557 and a waiting list of about 200, said Will Staros, regional vice president for Forza Education Management, which operates the school. To handle the overflow, the school added capacity with nine modular classrooms. TOP VIDEOS Continue watching How to fill out FAFSA for college financial aid after the ad × Parents who are interested in enrolling their children in the hands-on-learning, project-based school should apply now as seating is limited, Staros said. Planned is a two-story, 66,000-square-foot building with a capacity of 1,000 students. It’s anticipated that grades three through eight would be taught in the planned building, which would also house the media center, a science center, a STEM lab and music and art center. Anticipated opening date is 2023.

After campus expansion is completed, the existing 24,000-square-foot building would be used for kindergarten through second grade students and the technology center. Eventually, the school’s total enrollment would grow to about 1,300. Enrollment growth would be incremental with grade eight being added by the 2024-25 school year, Staros said. Parrish Charter Academy has no plans to add a high school. The charter school would be a feeder to Parrish Community High School, Staros said.

Parrish Charter Academy founding was a difficult one. Forza filed seven applications with the Manatee School District, all of which were rejected. School district officials were concerned that Parrish Charter Academy would not align with state standards or Manatee’s student progression plan. Parrish Charter School then took its case to the Florida Department of Education.

Principal Dawn Patterson welcomed students and parents at the 2019 ribbon cutting ceremony for the Parrish Charter Academy. File photo by Tiffany Tompkins

After questioning the school district and Forza, the Charter School Appeal Commission unanimously voted to grant the school’s appeal, a decision affirmed by the State Board of Education. At the school’s grand opening in 2019, Principal Dawn Patterson addressed concerns about the school. “It’s a brand new curriculum in Florida. It’s rigorous and it’s hard. It’s tough, but we’re doing it for the kids. It’s all about those hands-on activities, making things relevant,” Patterson said. Forza also operates Oak Creek Charter School in Bonita Springs and Gulf Coast Charter Academy in Naples. Forza’s request to expand Parrish Charter Academy is now under administrative review by Manatee County Building Services. Parrish and the North River area have been transformed by development over the past two decades and are now among the leading growth hot spots in Manatee County.

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