Posted: 12:08 pm Friday, June 28th, 2013

Joseph Littles charter school to stay at Roosevelt Full Service Center another year 

By Allison Ross

The Joseph-Littles-Nguzo Saba charter school may get to stay at its location in the Roosevelt Full Service Center for another year after all.

Roosevelt Full Service Center. Palm Beach Post file photo.

Pending approval by the Palm Beach County School Board, the K-8 charter school with its Afro-centric curriculum will stay a third year at the West Palm Beach location.

This saves Joseph Littles from becoming a nomad once again. The little charter school has had to move locations more than half a dozen times in its 14 years of existence.

The district in October had told the charter school that it would have to leave Roosevelt Full Service Center to make way for the district’s new Roosevelt Leadership Academy for Young Men. (The charter school’s lease was up at the end of this school year anyway.)

But after much wrangling, the leadership academy will be going this year into the nearby Roosevelt Middle, not Roosevelt Full Service Center.

District spokesman Jason Shockley said that, after this year, the district will “further evaluate” its contract with Joseph Littles-Nguzo Saba. He said the one-year agreement with the charter was put into place as the leadership academy grows.

The leadership academy is all-male academy that is opening in the fall with sixth-graders, with other grades to be added in future years. It has a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum as well as an Afro-centric curriculum.

Controversy was sparked earlier this school year about placing the district’s leadership academy at the Full Service Center when district staff told the school board that the center needed nearly $7 million in renovations.

The cost, coupled with warnings from the district about the state of its capital budget, made the majority of school board members balk and instead ask the superintendent to find another location for the fledgling academy.

Proponents of putting the academy at the Full Service Center railed at the board during a meeting in May, accusing the board of not caring about the community and of the history of the center, which originally was an all-black high school when it opened in 1950.

While many community members have now said they accept Roosevelt Middle as an interim solution for the leadership academy, at least one questioned why the charter school could be placed in the center when the leadership academy could not.

“The critical question: if it’s in such bad shape, why allow any educational programs to go on there?” said Robbie Littles, chairman of the Bridge Builders and an advocate of putting the leadership academy at the Full Service Center.

“If Roosevelt Full Service Center is in such a state of disrepair, how in the (heck) did the district allow the (charter school) to operate there?” he asked Thursday.

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