ST. PETE BEACH – City commissioners are in favor of plans to establish a charter school in St. Pete Beach that would initially serve about 140 students in the fourth to eighth grades.
Commissioners passed a resolution Feb. 26 in support of the proposed Academy by the Sea, which would have a Montessori-based philosophy.
A group of parents, teachers and residents are hoping the Pinellas County School Board will approve its application for a charter school, which would open in August 2014 somewhere in St. Pete Beach.
Sarah Tierney, who has a masters degree in educational leadership with emphasis on charter school management, spoke for school organizers at the St. Pete Beach City Commission meeting.
“There’s not been a public school here as you know since 2009,” Tierney said. “The closing of the Gulf Beaches school left a hole in the community.”
Having a school is one of the most fundamental pieces of a community – taking care of children, she said.
“So we are trying to bring that back to us,” she said.
A school will help market the area to young families “who will put down roots” and help build the community, she said.
“We hope to contribute to the financial security of this city. We want to partner with the community to encourage patronage at the local businesses,” Tierney said.
The Montessori-based philosophy creates an environment “where the concepts of independence, acceptance, cooperation, courtesy, and grace along with a commitment to rigorous academic expectations produce students who are prepared to become leaders in the global community,” the school’s website said.
In other matters, commissioners approved a $125,250 proposal from Michael Baker Jr. Inc. to complete design engineering for Blind Pass Road from 73rd Avenue to Gulf Boulevard.
In September 2012 City Commission approved the fiscal year 2013 budget, which included $700,000 in the capital improvement plan for the construction of the road, which city officials hope will be under way later this year.
“This is basically taking that wide section of Blind Pass Road, narrowing it down, adding sidewalks … two lanes of traffic. We are working in the curb lines so we are not taking away any of the right of way that people are accustomed to using,” City Manager Mike Bonfield said.