By early 2000, the once great tradition of outstanding local schools for Lake Wales’ citizens had reached a point of decline. It was at that time when concerned citizens, with the support of the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce education committee, decided to do something to reverse that trend. What emerged from their initiative was an accountability driven charter school systems that continues to make significant improvement in all areas of student achievement. Little did anyone know at the time that Lake Wales Charter Schools, the system of charter schools that resulted from the citizens’ initiative nearly 10 years ago, would become one of the town’s largest employer. In fact, the determination shown by local citizens to improve the quality of public education initially had two objectives, to significantly improve local schools, and to ensure Lake Wales’ families would have no reason to send their children to schools outside this community. To say that Lake Wales Charter Schools profoundly exceeded everyone’s expectations is an understatement.
Since 2004, when five Lake Wales’ public schools were converted to public charter schools, and with the addition of Bok Academy and the International Baccalaureate program to Lake Wales High School, a significant reversal has taken place both in terms of quality and the participation in our local schools. Many families that had previously decided to seek other opportunities to educate their children outside Lake Wales have found favor in our excellent system of public charter schools. The Lake Wales Charter Schools system now provides educational services for approximately 4,000 students. While the majority of these students live in Lake Wales many come from surrounding towns including Lakeland, Bartow, Haines City, Winter Haven, Dundee, and Frostproof. The greater challenge for the LWCS system now is to continue its effort to pursue educational excellence while upholding the highest measures of academic and fiscal accountability.
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