Education First for Newberry Announces Passage of Newberry Elementary School Charter Conversion Vote

The Florida Department of Education confirmed today that per state statutes, a 50% vote threshold is the requirement for the teacher vote for passage of a charter conversion. Having already achieved the 50% threshold for the parent vote, Newberry Elementary School has thus passed the conversion vote and will begin its charter application for submission to the state Charter Review Commission.

A governing board will be named and the legal process begun for preparing the in-depth application for a charter conversion. Education First for Newberry looks forward to its role in facilitating a smooth, orderly, community-focused transition over the coming year.

In reflecting on the news, Education First for Newberry board member and Newberry Elementary School parent Chelsea Leming said, “We are thrilled with this news and are incredibly excited to work closely with administrators, teachers, parents and the district as we prepare our charter application. We wish to thank Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton for her service in conducting the election and counting the votes. And we thank the Department of Education for clarifying the law in this important matter.”

For additional background: On Wednesday, April 17th, votes were counted and the results of the Newberry Elementary School vote were as follows:

  • Parent Votes Eligible: 520
  • Total Yes Votes: 149
  • Total No Votes: 125
  • Teacher Votes Eligible: 44
  • Teacher Yes Votes: 23 (by audible count)
  • Teacher No Votes: 17 (by audible count)
  • Teacher Abstentions: 4 (counted as no)
  • One “yes” ballot was deemed ineligible due to use of the “parent” ballot
  • Final Announced Teacher vote by Arbitrator Barton: 22 Yes, 21 No

Importantly, the controlling statute, Section 1002.33(3)(b), Florida Statutes, states, “An application submitted proposing to convert an existing public school to a charter school shall demonstrate the support of at least 50 percent of the teachers employed at the school and 50 percent of the parents voting whose children are enrolled at the school.” The statute does not require a majority. It requires only 50%. Even with the invalidated ballot, there were 22 votes in favor of conversion, which is exactly 50% of the total number of teachers. According to the

statute, the vote should have passed on the first reading. The state Department of Education has now confirmed this interpretation.

Department Senior Chancellor Adam Miller said, in an email,

“Section 1002.33(3)(b), Florida Statutes, is the statute that authorizes the charter school conversion process and sets the threshold that must be met in terms of parent and teacher voting. The statute provides that in order to submit an application the applicant must demonstrate at least 50% of the teachers employed at the school voted in favor of converting the school to a public charter school. If a conversion charter school application is submitted to either the Alachua County School Board or the Charter School Review Commission, and the application can successfully demonstrate that at least half of the teachers voted for conversion, then the applicant has met that threshold requirement. The applicant must also demonstrate that a sufficient percentage of parents voted in favor of conversion.”

For further inquiries please contact Caroline Anderson at [email protected] 386-453-0741.

Yes Newberry