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Brooks-DeBartolo Prepares For Year 2

NORTH TAMPA - Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High plans to field competitive sports teams despite the school's struggles with lower-than-projected enrollment and revenue. The sports will be girls and boys basketball, baseball, flag football for girls and volleyball. The charter school, which starts its second year Aug. 18, hopes to begin the programs this school year. Those teams will operate under the Florida High School Athletic Association requirements. Other sports, such as golf, may be offered through an intramural program. "We promised it; we voted on it. We have to do something to show we are growing," Principal Phildra Swagger told the school's board at a workshop July 22. The school has 239 students enrolled for 2008-09, with about 15 additional students pending because their paperwork from private schools is being processed, she said. Brooks-DeBartolo, which has an enrollment capacity of 500, should have about 300 students when the school year begins, she added.
Most are returning students to the school, at 11602 N. 15th St., which operated last school year with about 190 ninth-, 10{+t}{+h}{+-} and 11{+t}{+h}{+-}graders. This year, it will have 18 seniors, and 66 ninth-graders coming from public, charter and private middle schools, as well as home schooling. The school was founded by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and the DeBartolos, a family of local business leaders who previously owned the San Francisco 49ers. Originally, organizers had planned the school's budget for 300 students the first year, 400 students by the second year and 500 by the third. The school has struggled financially as the allotment it receives from the state, which is based on enrollment, has fallen short of those projections. Board member Jorge Valiente, a certified public account, said, "We are running a deficit; we can't continue" to do so. Board member Thompson Thorn, an attorney, said the school needs another year to grow. "Until we get up to 500 students, we are going to be looking to Mr. D Eddie DeBartolo and Mr. B Brooks to write out more checks," he said. To help fund the school, the board approved several fundraisers, including a series of guest lecturers; a golf tournament; and a cocktail party and auction with a "Fire and Ice" theme, which may become the school's signature event. They ruled out a proposed Jan. 31 breakfast as part of Super Bowl weekend activities because of the number of other events. Board member David Millitz of DeBartolo Holdings and the DeBartolo Family Foundation said, "I think if you are going to go up against Playboy and Maxim hosted parties, you are not going to win." The board also approved adding another math teacher to the 17-member faculty. But it rejected a proposal for two more teaching/administrative positions, instead asking that current faculty members assume more duties and receive a salary increase. "We will have to put restrictions on our curriculum for one year. We don't have the warm bodies to fill the needs," Swagger told the board, which also rejected adding a part-time cafeteria worker, recommending that parents volunteer for that instead. Brooks, who chairs the board, said: "I feel it should be the parents. That should be on their agenda. I think we put it on their agenda by telling them, 'It's up to you guys to do it.'" Swagger said parents must perform 40 hours of service as part of the agreement for their children to attend to the school but that the requirement has not been enforced. Swagger said she would be "more aggressive" in making them fulfill their obligation. Thorn agreed: "If they were sending their kids to Tampa Catholic or Jesuit, they'd be doing it or writing a check," since some schools require a per-hour payment of any volunteer hours not completed. For the sports program, Swagger said she has a $20,000 pledge for baseball. Board members will seek other donors to assist with uniforms, equipment and the other expenses of starting a sports program. "If you field the teams, uniforms will not be a problem," Thorn said. In other business, the board: •Was asked to participate in a dinner and interviews in late October with an accreditation team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school must receive accreditation for graduation, which also will allow it access to state capital outlay money, Swagger said. •Heard a presentation from Julie Gillespie, the University of South Florida's assistant vice president for principal gifts, regarding scholarships available, particularly the lst Generation Scholarship, which targets students whose parents were not college students. "We would like to identify your students before they graduate and talk to them" about financial aid options available, Gillespie said. "We want your students to think about USF as a school of first choice." •Received information that the school's first senior prom is April 4 and the first graduation is May 30. •Approved providers for health and liability insurance, with specific packages to be prepared.

Correspondent Lenora Lake can be reached at (813) 865-4851 or [email protected]

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