Company running F-, D-rated schools wants to open 3 more in Orange Co.



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A charter school company that runs an F-rated school is fighting to open three more in Orange County.

The school board is in the middle of a meeting to review those applications.

Channel 9's Lori Brown found out how many millions of tax dollars are at stake.

Renaissance Charter Schools could receive nearly $30 million tax dollars if each of its three schools was fully enrolled.

With one F-rated school already, some are concerned.

Charter Schools USA threw an expensive event in the grand ballroom of the Rosen Plaza Hotel on International Drive in 2011. It said the event was a developmental program.

Gov. Rick Scott attended the event that was paid for with profits made from taxpayer money.

The event included a motivational speaker who charges between $10,000 and $15,000.

Fast forward two years. The company now has a D-rated school in Osceola County, Renaissance Charter School at Poinciana, and an F-rated school in Orange County, Renaissance Charter School at Chickasaw. With that, record they want to open three more schools in Orange County.

"We have a very successful model. We plan on monitoring the schools closely, but we never know what students we're going to get," said Ken Haiko, chair of the Renaissance Charter Schools board.

Renaissance Charter Schools said Renaissance at Chickasaw is their first F-rated Renaissance school in 14 years.

Haiko said since they just opened last year, improvements will take time.

"Do you believe this school is going to receive a higher grade this year?" asked Brown.

"Oh yes, I'll guarantee it," Haiko said.

The school board's hands are somewhat tied.

Even if they deny the application, the company can appeal that decision to the state.

The state board overturned the Orange County board's previous denial of Charter Schools USA.