Choosing which school your child should attend is one of the biggest decisions you face as a parent. A school’s environment, curriculum, philosophies, faculty and fellow students will shape your children into the people they will become.
Making decisions about your child’s education may feel stressful, but no one knows your child better than you. As you consider special talents, interests, developmental patterns and emotional needs, you can find the school that best fits.
Selecting your child's school is a right and responsibility, so start by learning the differences between public, charter, private and independent schools in Florida.
Public schools are probably the type of schools you know most about. These schools are called public because they’re open to the public, funded by the public and accountable to the public.
In Florida, there are more than 4,200 public schools authorized under the Florida Department of Education, serving more than 2.5 million students. These schools and their teachers and students are accredited, evaluated and assessed according to the department’s policies and regulations as determined by the State School Board.
Charter schools are public and among the fastest-growing school options. According to the Florida Department of Education, charter schools are different from public schools because they operate under a performance contract or “charter" that requires them to meet academic standards and financial results but frees them from some of the regulations for traditional public schools.
Charter schools are sponsored by a district school board but are typically managed by the individual, group of parents or teachers, business, or municipality that submitted the charter or contract.
Private schools are privately owned by nonprofits, churches or for-profit corporations. Private schools are often developed around a unique purpose or philosophy and have flexibility in establishing their systems of grading and evaluation.
Private schools may be a good option to meet the needs of your child, but do your homework to pick the private school most suited for an individual child. Learn about the private schools’ statement of purpose to determine if it is a good fit for your family.
Independent schools are private schools governed by a board of trustees directly accountable to the parents they serve. They differ from private schools because, as their name describes, they are independent from any church or for-profit corporation. Like charter and private schools, students in independent schools are there because they choose to be, and the schools tend to attract students, parents and teachers who take initiative and are seeking the best educational environment possible.
Independent schools typically offer small class sizes, individual attention to students and a close student-teacher relationship. Each independent school is unique in its philosophies and mission, giving parents a choice to seek the best fit for their child.
As you look for an environment of excellence for your child, explore Academy at the Lakes, an independent school nestled on nine acres on both sides of Collier Parkway in Land O’Lakes, Tampa Bay’s choice for educational and personal discovery. Academy at the Lakes provides students with a balanced education in fine arts, athletics and STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — while instilling courage, high standards, resilience and integrity. Schedule a tour or request more information by visiting academyatthelakes.org.