School board passes Reichert House charter application 

Darry Lloyd said his organization has felt like the school district has held up its application.
Darry Lloyd said his organization has felt like the school district has held up its application.
Photo by Glory Reitz

The School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) approved Reichert House Youth Academy’s charter school application in a 4-1 vote on Tuesday. 

Several school board members expressed concerns that the school’s application, which was first brought in November, and its budget, needed further updating. Four members were willing to proceed in approving the application with an informal agreement that district staff would continue working with Reichert House to make sure its budget is feasible. 

Board Member Kay Abbitt was the lone dissenting vote, saying the budget was not ready, and that running a charter school is like running a business—it needs a functioning budget. 

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

“We’re voting on something that we’ve already said, the budget is not where it should be,” Abbitt said. “And we’re voting on something with the hope and dreams—and I know [Darry Lloyd] will [follow through], but it’s just that it seems reckless.” 

If the board had not approved the application, organizers would have needed to re-start a 30-day process of approval with the Application Review Committee, which would then set a 90-day deadline for the board to vote on the application. 

Superintendent Shane Andrew suggested Reichert House could rescind its current application and start the process again, and Alachua County Public Schools staff attorney Susan Seigle said the board could table the current application, but the vote went forward anyway. 

School board members who voted in favor said they still wanted to see clarifications and improvements in the budget going forward. 

“Mr. Lloyd, we’re going to hold your feet to the fire,” SBAC chair Diyonne McGraw said, speaking to Darry Lloyd, president of the Palm Breeze Youth Services Board. 

The proposed budget is based off of an expected enrollment of 30 students for the first two years, growing to 40 in the third year and up to 75 in the sixth year.  

Palm Breeze Youth Services and the Black-on-Black Crime Task Force have pledged a $500,000 donation for the new iteration of Reichert House to use as a startup seed. Lloyd said that the donation is already secured, and the budget plans to spread it out over the next five years. 

School Board Member Kay Abbitt, who has expressed her support of charter schools, voted against the application.
Photo by Glory Reitz School Board Member Kay Abbitt, who has expressed her support of charter schools, voted against the application.

The budget’s main roadblock is that, as the school is not currently functioning as a school, it cannot budget around full-time enrollment (FTE) funding or Exceptional Student Education (ESE) funding, though before the school was shut down, many of its students qualified for ESE. 

The school has also applied for a startup grant from the state, but Ginger Stanford, Alachua County Public School’s special projects manager for charter schools, said the state has informed her that 50% of those applications are now being turned down. She subsequently advised Lloyd not to rely on that grant in his budget. 

The school does have the advantage of an existing facility with existing equipment and furniture, as it was in operation for several decades before last year. 

Reichert House functioned as a city of Gainesville youth intervention program, managed by the Gainesville Police Department for over 30 years before the city eliminated the program last year due to budget cuts. Ending Reichert House saved the city about $1.25 million, but the community’s demand for the program remained. 

Lloyd first presented the application to the SBAC at an informational workshop in November. He noted then that Reichert House’s mission has changed to include all, not just troubled teens, and that the school’s name would likely change as well. 

The name remains the same on the charter application but could still change. 

Lloyd said at Tuesday’s meeting that while he and others involved in the application process were disappointed when they realized they would not be able to open for the 2024-25 school year, they do plan to run camps this summer. Lloyd said Palm Breeze will not mind using the extra time to polish up its application and budget. 

“Our concern was that we felt like we were getting the runaround because every time we reached out, there was something that changed… So regardless, right now we know we’re not opening in August,” Lloyd said. “So, a little bit more time to get it back, to get the right, none of our board members have any problem with that.” 

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This is good, complete coverage of this event. The application for the charter school was inadequate and should not have been approved. This was the second attempt by this organization, and with much help from staff, they still could not get it right. With such a disorganized start, they have little chance of success, and it will be a huge waste of taxpayer money.