Embattled Imagine Schools CEO Dennis Bakke got more bad news today as Pinellas Superintendent John Stewart recommended closure of his charter school in St. Petersburg. Writes Tampa Bay Times reporter Rebecca Catalenello in The Gradebook:
Pinellas Superintendent John Stewart this morning told board members he’d like to close struggling Imagine Charter School in St. Petersburg, which just earned its third F in four years.
This recommendation comes less than two months after the board voted 5-1 to extend the school’s contract per his recommendation. Though Imagine supporters made the case that they were improving, 2011-12 FCAT data released soon after showed the school was still struggling: 54 percent of its third graders, for example, scored a Level 1 in reading, the lowest possible score.
It was the worst third-grade reading performance of any school in the district except for Life Force Academy, which the board already voted to close.
Is Bakke’s Imagine Schools empire crumbling? Two failing schools in St. Louis were closed late last year. Including the St. Petersburg charter, Imagine has three failing charters in Florida in 2010. . Imagine’s business plan is unusually leveraged and puts undue stress on each school’s financials.
Bakke’s troubles continue to embarrass Rick Scott as the charter school CEO was on his charter-school friendly education transition teamAlong with Bakke on Scott’s team were two other charter school bosses, KIPP School’s Jacksonville board director Gary Chartrand and Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage.