The Florida Department of Education on Wednesday evening released a list of “schools of excellence” — those schools receiving a grade of A or B for the most recent three school years and ranking in the 80th percentile or higher for their school type for at least two of those three.
The Schools of Excellence program was established by a contentious House bill, 7069, passed during the most recent legislative session. Its purpose, according to the bill, is to “provide administrative flexibility to the state’s top schools so that the instructional personnel and administrative staff at such schools can continue to serve their communities and increase student learning to the best of their professional ability.”
The program provides that flexibility in several ways, including:
The ability to disregard requirements to provide a minimum amount of daily or weekly reading instruction; The ability to establish school day start and end times independent of the school district; and
The ability to calculate class size for compliance with state law based on a school-wide average, instead of classroom counts.
It also grants greater independence to principals of Schools of Excellence, including allowing them to refuse to accept teachers placed at the school by the school district and the “authority to deploy financial resources to school programs ... to help improve student achievement.”
Three of Citrus County’s 18 schools qualified as Schools of Excellence: Central Ridge Elementary, Floral City Elementary, and Homosassa Elementary.
“Our goal is definitely to always have high-performing schools,” said Amy Crowell, the school district’s director of research and accountability. “If we were to decide what schools of excellence should be ... I think we have many more than three schools of excellence.”