Sigsbee Charter School (SCS) is located on Naval Air Station Key West (NASKW) and serves children in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade. This non-profit organization captivates students through a marine-science, environmental education program that capitalizes on the local marine sanctuary. The curriculum offers integrated studies that engage students with the environment through local field trips and inquiry projects. Our science program is rooted in backward curriculum design. Our literacy program follows the Science of Reading. Math instruction is crafted around the Mathematical Practices. Students participate in exploratory cultural arts programs on a daily basis, including performing arts, visual art, technology, media, health and physical education.
Through innovative approaches, Sigsbee Charter School inspires critical thinking and promotes empathy, focusing on the unique needs of the military child.
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a free, public school of choice. It is governed by a site-specific Board of Directors who make decisions based on the needs of the population at the school. Students are not automatically assigned to a charter school; their families must make the deliberate choice to enroll. As a result, charters are dependent upon strong student achievement and financial stability.
Charters are still held accountable to all federal and state regulations for public schools. Students participate in all required state assessments. Sigsbee Charter School is still a part of the Monroe County School District, with its own Board of Directors and staff.
At a February 2008 School Board meeting, Sigsbee Elementary was identified by the MCSB as the school that would either close or be converted to a charter school. In August 2008, a group of people interested in helping to keep a school on the Sigsbee site, were identified to become the Sigsbee Elementary Charter School Founding Team. The charge for this group was to submit an application to the MCSB requesting to open a charter school at the existing site of Sigsbee Elementary School. This would preserve the existence of a school focused on meeting the needs of the military dependent child in Key West as well as provide an educational alternative to local Key West children.
The SCSB moved forward putting together the necessary items to start the charter school. In March 2009, the SCSB submitted an application to the FL DOE for over $325,000 in start-up grant money.
The contract was signed, and Sigsbee Charter School opened in July, 2010. During its first year of operation, SCS maintained enrollment for approximately 285 students, a number much higher than originally anticipated. The marine science/environmental education was initiated with service learning opportunities that integrated field trips to local state parks, SNUBA, sailing and snorkeling as well as partnerships with community organizations such as the Rotary Club of Key West, the Military Affairs Committee, the Key West Navy League and Reef Relief. The school earned an A rating based on student achievement.
In 2011-2012, SCS expanded to a K-6 school with a student population of 385. The school was nationally recognized as a school of excellence by the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools. The students and teachers once again earned an A rating. SCS was the recipient of a $540,000 grant from the Department of Defense Education Act to expand its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs. SCS and Naval Air Station Key West were also received the Pete Taylor Award from the Military Child Education Coalition.
In 2012-2013, SCS expanded once again to include seventh grade. The population also rose to approximately 430 students. Three science modulars were purchased and accessorized to create “Science Row.” The library and auditorium were renovated and the electrical system was upgraded to prepare for the introduction of new technology such as Smartboards and 1:1 laptops in middle school. The staff began the transition to the New Florida Standards and the middle school program diversified its course options by adding Algebra 1Honors, ELA Honors, College Prep, Media, Technology and Spanish.
Each year, SCS has expanded programs, grade levels (until reaching a full K-8 program) and staff. A full renovation of the preexisting structures was planned and executed. Currently, there are approximately 550 students and 90 staff members who comprise the Sigsbee family. The school is recognized for it's emphasis on "place-based" education, using the local marine sanctuary as a platform for learning. The students have maintained the school's "A" rating each year and has been named a Florida School of Excellence for six years, outperforming over 85% of similar schools in the state.