Converting Newberry Schools to Charter Schools: What Families Need to Know

  • The City of Newberry and a group called Newberry Education First are working on a plan to convert Newberry Elementary, Oak View Middle and Newberry High School to charter schools beginning with the 2025-26 school year. As a parent at one of those schools, you will have a chance to vote on this plan. At least half of parent households must vote (each household gets one vote) and half of those voting must approve for the plan to move forward. A majority of classroom teachers must also approve.

    This will obviously be a big change for students, families, staff and the community. Below is information about some of the programs and services currently offered by Alachua County Public Schools and how they would be affected if the Newberry schools become charters.

    We appreciate your interest in and support of your child’s school.

Student Attendance

  • By law, all students have a ‘right’ to attend an Alachua County Public School and cannot be removed without due process. They also have the right to attend the school to which they are zoned.

    This ‘right’ is not required for charter schools, and there is no guarantee that any charter school will enroll and/or continue to serve any individual student.

    According to the organizers of the charter conversion effort, the school’s operators plan to limit who can attend ‘over time’ to students living in a zone they will draw. They also say that in the future, younger children who don’t currently attend the schools “will no longer be automatically admitted’ to the charters, even if they live in an area currently zoned to the schools. They would only have the option to apply “if there is capacity or in specialized magnet programs.”

    This means there is no guarantee that all households or future households in a current Newberry school zone will be able to send their younger (or future) children there. There’s also no information on whether people who move in will be able to send any of their children to those schools. 


Special Services/ESE/504

  • Alachua County Public Schools serves all special-needs students and provides all the supports required under their individualized education plans (IEPs) and 504 plans.

    Obviously, the district provides ESE classroom teachers, but this costs more than the state provides. The charter operator would have to cover the difference.

    The district also funds additional services for special-needs students, which can include occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech/language pathologists, classroom paraprofessionals, one-on-one paraprofessionals and more. The charter operators would have to cover those costs and cannot use federal funds to replace what the district currently provides.

    The district also provides funding for adaptive equipment or assistive technology for special-needs students. The charter operators would have to cover those costs as well.

    Ultimately, charter schools are not required to serve all special-needs students. If they believe they can’t adequately meet a certain child’s needs, they can choose not to enroll that student. We’ve also had charter schools that accepted students but did not provide the services as required by their IEP or 504 plan. 

    The district is also required to provide transportation for students whose IEP requires it, regardless of how far they live from their school. It must also meet their special transportation needs, such as an aide, lift or other equipment/support. Charter schools are not required to provide such transportation, or any transportation at all.


  • Alachua County Public Schools is required to provide transportation to all students living more than two miles from their zoned school and many special-needs students, regardless of how far they live from their school. The district also provides transportation to students in magnet programs.

    Charter schools are not required to provide transportation for any students, now or in the future. They can also stop offering transportation if they choose.

    On average, Alachua County Public School students attending their zoned school walk a little over a quarter of a mile to their bus stops. ESE students receive door-to-door service. State law limits how far non-magnet students at district schools are required to walk to their bus stops. There is no limit for charter schools.

    The state covers about one-third of what it costs to transport students. The rest is provided by the district. For students attending schools in Newberry, the districts kicks in about $650,000 each year in additional transportation funds over and above what the state provides.

    If the charter operators choose to provide transportation, they would only receive their share of the state transportation funds, not the additional district funds. This would likely limit the transportation they can provide.


  • Most facilities funding for Florida schools comes from local property taxes. Under Florida law, conversion charter schools do NOT receive any facilities funding from property taxes.

    The district would still ‘own’ the buildings at any conversion charter school and would have to maintain the existing facilities. It would NOT be required to fund any facility upgrades, renovations or new construction at the schools unless specifically required by law. Providing new space for students would be the responsibility of the charter operators. The district may also not be required to continue leasing the 14 portable classrooms currently located on the Newberry Elementary School campus, which could result in their removal.

    At this time, it’s not clear whether the conversion charter schools would be eligible for any revenues from the Half-Cent for Schools, which provides additional funding for facilities. For example, the new classroom building at Oak View Middle School, which cost $7 million, was funded through the Half-Cent for Schools.


  • Currently all coaches, assistant coaches and athletic directors at both the middle and high school level receive supplements funded by the district as spelled out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the district and the Alachua County Education Association. The supplements would not apply to charter schools. If the charter operators want to continue the supplements, they would need to pick up the cost.

    The district provides certified athletic trainers to each high school for practices and games. It also provides extra funds every year for all high school sports that don’t raise enough money through ticket sales and boosters to support their programs. This includes all sports except football and boys’ varsity basketball, which are self-supporting. These additional district funds help pay for uniforms, equipment, and other items. This funding is not provided to charter schools and would have to be covered by the operators

    Alachua County Public Schools funds the district’s middle school sports program, which includes boys’ and girls’ basketball, volleyball and soccer. Besides paying the coaches’ supplements, the district also pays for the game officials. It has not yet been determined if a charter middle school could compete in that program. If it can, the school’s operators would have to pay coaches and part of the cost of the officials.

    The district also funds Home Campus, the digital system that tracks and maintains eligibility, physical exam forms, parental consent forms, and other athletic-related paperwork. This would no longer be available at Newberry High School if it converts to a charter.

    Any upgrades to athletic facilities would need to be covered by the charter operators.

Extra-Curricular Activities

  • Supplements for teachers, staff and others to sponsor clubs, student government, non-athletic competition teams, and other extracurricular activities are currently funded by Alachua County Public Schools.

    Some of these student activities at the Newberry schools include but are not limited to speech and debate clubs, safety patrol, robotics, chess club, and the FFA competition team. These costs would have to be picked up by the charter school operators.

School Resource Officers

  • Alachua County Public Schools provides a school resource officer at each of the Newberry schools. Some of the cost is covered by the state and the district pays the rest. This additional cost would have to be covered by the charter operators, or they would have to find another way to meet the requirements of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safe Schools Act.

Magnet/Career-Tech Programs

  • The district does NOT offer magnet programs at charter schools because it does not have any authority over teachers, curriculum, students, etc. at charters.  This means that the Academy of Criminal Justice at Newberry High and the Center for Advanced Academics and Technology (CAAT) Program at Oak View Middle would no longer be located at those schools and would most likely be moved to different schools.  The new operators could choose to re-establish the programs in the Newberry schools, but they would not be part of the district's magnet application process or the annual Magnet Showcase.  They would also not be eligible for any additional funding, services, transportation or equipment (such as computers) provided by the district.


  • Alachua County Public Schools has made a significant investment in technology (computers, classroom projectors, etc.) in all schools, including the schools in Newberry. For example, Newberry High School and Oak View Middle School are ‘one-to-one’ schools, which means there is a one-to-one ratio of students to computers.

    While the existing computers and other technology would most likely remain at those schools if they become charters, maintaining and replacing them would be the responsibility of the charter school operator. The schools would also no longer have access to the district’s network.

Mental Health Services

  • Charter schools must apply to the state to receive any state mental health funds. Whatever funds they are granted would have to cover the cost of mental health services currently provided by the district, such as the salary and benefits of a social worker. 

    Alachua County Public Schools provides several other mental health services to its students and families. Many Newberry families are currently taking advantage of the free therapy sessions and other counseling, mental health diagnosis and referral services, parent coaching and more thanks to the district’s contracts with providers like Meridian Behavioral Healthcare Services, the University of Florida, Hazel Health, the Cook Center and others. Newberry families and students also receive services from the district’s System of Care, which offers mental health and other family supports. 

    Students and families at charter schools would not be eligible for those programs and services.