September 28, 2023

Tallahassee Community College creating its own charter school in a first for Florida

| 1/30/2023

TALLAHASSEE – Tallahassee Community College has become the first state college to be authorized to open a charter school by the Florida Department of Education under a new state program, the college has announced.

The Florida Department of Education approved the college’s application to become an authorizer of a charter school, a crucial step toward the college opening a charter school. College officials said this fall a high school with a focus on STEM curriculum will open and include a dual enrollment program that will allow students to earn their high school diploma and associate of science at the same time.

Cybersecurity will be one of the focuses of the new school, allowing students interested in the field to earn an associate degree upon completion; cybersecurity is one of the state’s most in-demand career fields.

The school will open for students in grades 9 to 12 in August. Last year, TCC received $2 million in seed money from the state to establish the school.

The charter school plans on having 100 ninth and tenth graders enrolled when it opens in August, building to total enrollment of 400 students by its fifth year.

“We are proud to be the first college to be authorized,” said TCC President Jim Murdaugh said in statement. “TCC’s success is a manifestation of our mission and vision, and the decision to pursue sponsoring authority for charter schools is the next natural step in our commitment to academic excellence and student success. This is part of a continued effort to ensure that students and parents have choices in their educational journey.”

TCC was one of five Florida College system colleges selected by Gov. Ron DeSantis to create career and technical education charter schools. TCC was the first Florida College System institution to submit an application to FDOE to become a charter school authorizer and the first to be approved by Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz.

“Not only is this an opportunity to continue our great work within the local community of creating a pipeline of qualified candidates to meet the demands of the local workforce, it is also an exciting option for students,” said Calandra Stringer, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “We think this is going to make a big difference for students and families in our community.”

TCC has named Leon County educator Jessica Chapman as director of the charter school.

“This announcement is an important step on our charter school journey,” Chapman said. “We are reframing career and technical education pathways by offering an education that better aligns with the real-world needs of the workforce through focused curriculum in selected fields. Instead of limiting student options to college or a career, we intend to blend both.”

Historically, Florida charter schools have been created through an agreement between the school and the local district school board. In 2021, the Florida Legislature and DeSantis changed state law to allow the state colleges and universities to act as a charter school sponsor and work directly with the Florida Department of Education to open the schools.

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