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Campus of dreams

April 29, 2016
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The plan was grand, the don't-do-it criticism profuse, and the initial implementation a tad touch-and-go.

But if results are the benchmark of success, the Cape Coral Charter School System has achieved the goal dreamed of when its first school opened in 2005: To provide an educational alternative to parents seeking a top-tier public school option for their children.

Of the four schools in the system operated under the auspices of the city of Cape Coral, three have earned recognition as high performing schools, according to the School District of Lee County.

If that is not achievement enough, Oasis High School has taken things a level higher, again earning national recognition as one of the country's most challenging.

That is no small feat.

Based on a variety of factors, including Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge test scores, the city charter school ranked No. 62 nationally, putting Oasis among the top 1 percent of high schools, a continuing plaudit also achieved in 2012. On the state level, Oasis came in at No. 15.

What does that mean in terms of student achievement? According to the school's "Relentless Pursuit of Excellence" fact sheet:

- More than 41 percent of last year's applying graduating class received a Bright Future's scholarship.

- The median GPA is 3.72.

- SAT scores are the highest in Lee County.

Kudos. This is what former city manager Terry Stewart and the then-sitting city council hoped for - and more -when the idea of a small, municipal charter school system was broached a dozen or so years ago.

The first school, Oasis Elementary, broke ground on Jan. 15, 2005 and opened in time for the 2005-06 school year; the Christa McAuliffe Elementary and Oasis Middle schools opened the next year; and Oasis High capped the construction of the system in 2009 with the opening of its $7.9 million facility.

Total enrollment at the four schools - all of which are at capacity- is about 3,200. The system's operating budget is approximately $23 million, funded, like other public schools, with county and state education dollars, which also cover the financing undertaken to construct the city-owned buildings.

What once was little more than a campus of dreams has proven the premise behind the vision:?If you build it, they will succeed.

We thank the educators, support staff, volunteers and officials who, on a daily basis, have made this possible.

- Breeze editorial



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