Even though the new Palm Acres Charter School has opened at 507 Sunshine Blvd., enrollment is ongoing, said the school's principal, Sarah White.
She said today that parents of students who may want to transfer to the school may do so at any time. There are procedures to complete and withdraw from another school and become a member of the new charter school.
The school, which opened Aug. 18 as did all other schools in Lee County, is associated with the school district, but operates under the management of another group. It follows all requirements of the public schools, and students who attend the new charter school do not have to pay any extra fees to the schools to be a student.
Palm Acres School banner.
The charter school has leased the education rooms in a large church complex that went into foreclosure earlier this year. White said the charter school occupies about half of the complex, but does not lease the sanctuary where former members worshipped.
Currently there are 50 students at the school and many were attending its sister school in Fort Myers. White said it is much easier now to attend the school near their homes in Lehigh. Transportation is provided at no cost by LeeTran.
White said there is plenty of room and her hopes are that there may be 150 students there by the end of the school year.
"Just because they enrolled or entered another school does not mean they can't enroll and transfer here now or the weeks ahead," White said.
She said of the 350 students at their Fort Myers school, many were from Lehigh, so now it is much easier to get to school during the day.
The new school does not issue GED diplomas, but a state-recognized graduation diploma like other schools. And with that diploma, students are given more availability to jobs, including professional positions, and giving the student an opportunity to attend college.
The school has several qualified and certified people who work with the students, including teachers and tutors, guidance directors and the administration staff.
White says all are interested in the students and ready to help in any way to make a student's participation in the school a success.
There are six full-time teachers, two assistant teachers and others on the administration staff. Many are from Lehigh and White points to that advantage for local jobs.
"We fit a niche that the school district is not serving," White said, "but we work well with the district."
The managers of the two charter schools - in Fort Myers and in Lehigh - are CPA (Consulting and Professional Associates, a management company.
White said open enrollment is at any time during the school year for students from 16 years of age to 21. The school holds classes for 9 to 12 and then a graduation with caps and gowns. Students at the school come from all walks of life in Lehigh and are guided by professionals on a personal basis.
Durla McGill helps students get jobs by teaching how to write letters and resumes. Russ Crawford , a guidance counselor, helps students prepare college applications for under graduate colleges and community colleges, or the military.
Students spend five hours a day at different shifts. White there is no cafeteria and none planned, Principal White said students are allowed to bring their lunches or snacks and t heir drinks.
"This school is where they can eat at their desks," she laughed.
Each student works on computers aimed at their specified courses with tutors and teachers with them to help and answer questions and offer information.
"Sometimes we bring in pizza for them," White said. "The thing we do here by all our staff is to build a relationship with the students. Once we have that, we fill in the gaps."
"We're here for your teenager's success. Do you have a teenager that is not doing well in the traditional high school setting? Our students complete a computer-based curriculum at their own pace with the help of our highly qualified, licensed staff. They can attend school at a time that is convenient for them. It is not an "alternative school" where troubled students are ordered to attend.
"Flexible scheduling allows them plenty of time to maintain the responsibilities of work, school, and family," she said.
"Many of our graduates are attending post- secondary educational institutions such as Florida SouthWestern (formerly Edison State College) and Gulf Coast University, to name a few."
If you have any questions or would like to learn more of what the new charter school in Lehigh has to offer your teenager, call 239-462-9649.