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New Database Aims to Lower Number of Florida Charter School Closures

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In an attempt to cut down on the number of Florida charter schools that close within a year of opening, a national organization has launched a new database filled with background information on charter school operators.

August marks the application deadline for anyone wanting to open a charter school in the state. Now it's up to authorizers—the groups that oversee schools—to decide which proposals to approve.

But this year authorizers—the vast majority of which in Florida are school districts—will have a new tool at their disposal developed by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

"If you hire someone to run your business, you want to know where they've been working and what kind of results they've had," said William Haft, vice president for authorizer development at NACSA, in a statement. "We are designing the Tracker to help school boards approve only quality options for the children and families in their districts."

The Charter Operator Tracker provides searchable information on charter school management organizations that are currently or have previously run schools, such as whether a CMO is for- or non-profit, how well its schools performed academically, and how many campuses it's had to close.

Authorizers can search the database either by operator or school.

According to NACSA, 10 percent of first-year charter schools closed in Florida during the 2013-14 school year—three times the national average. And nearly 45 percent of charters in the state are affliated with management organizations. 

The database is still in testing phase, and NACSA is looking for feedback on how well it's working. 

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