The six public charter schools in Monroe County are gearing up for the 2014-15 school year with enrollment -- and in some cases lotteries to get student spots -- taking place in the coming weeks.
Public charter schools are open to any eligible student and are funded through the state. Charters differ from public schools in that teachers are not bound by rigid curriculum structures.
There are 1,175 Keys students in charter schools, according to the Monroe County School District. That's nearly 14 percent of the district's 8,426 students. The schools have a combined annual budget of more than $6 million.
At the Key West Montessori, the enrollment period started on Feb. 24 and runs until April 25. During that time, parents of prospective students at the school for students in kindergarten through eighth submit an application through www.keywestmontessori.com, culminating in a May 9 lottery.
The school runs at capacity with 118 students.
The Sigsbee Charter School, which offers preference to dependants of active-duty military in Key West, cuts off enrollment on Aug. 1. That school has more than 500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
At Key West Collegiate, the only charter high school in the Keys, Principal Cory Oliver is trying to boost enrollment, which has struggled to reach its 100-student goal. Enrollment has oscillated between 40 and 50 students.
"We can offer a college feel for students that are dedicated to pursuing a college education," Oliver said of the school, on Florida Keys Community College's Stock Island campus. Applications are at www.keywestacademy.org.
The Big Pine Academy can add to its 185 students, from kindergarten to eighth grade, and applications are available at www.bigpineacademy.com; there's no cut-off date or lottery.
At the Ocean Studies charter in Tavernier, Principal Jennifer Flores said there will be a lottery Thursday followed by two more in April and May. The school has 116 students in kindergarten through fourth grade.
For the Treasure Village Montessori in Islamorada, enrollment runs from April 13 to 18, ending with a lottery to determine the 220 students (kindergarten through eighth grade) that are accepted.
Principal Kelly Mangel said there will be 20 prekindergarten spaces as that entire class moves up a grade level.
Find the links to all of the schools at www.keysschools.com.