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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Newberry families, teachers vote against charter school initiative

Oakview Middle School and Newberry High School failed to pass, but results for Newberry Elementary School remain disputed

Newberry High School pictured on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.
Newberry High School pictured on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.

The Alachua County supervisor of elections Kim Barton counted parent and teacher votes for the Yes Newberry initiative at Mentholee Northflee Municipal building Wednesday afternoon. 

Yes Newberry aimed to convert the three Newberry Schools — Newberry Elementary, Oakview Middle and Newberry High — into public charter schools, which would separate them from Alachua County School District. 

All three schools failed to pass the initiative. 

The initiative was started by parents and community leaders who are concerned about large class sizes, divisive politics and pressure on teachers in Newberry.

Newberry Elementary School had 520 families eligible to vote. Of the 520, 261 families needed to participate. In total, 274 ballots were cast, and 149 families voted yes for the initiative, while 125 families voted no. The parent vote passed.

The school had 44 full-time teachers eligible to vote. By an audible count, 23 voted yes, 17 voted no and four abstained. The abstained votes were counted as no, and one ballot was deemed ineligible. By voting, 43 teacher ballots were cast with 22 voting yes and 21 voting no. The Yes Newberry Facebook page said the final teacher vote is to be determined. 

“We are not prepared to concede the final outcome of the Elementary School and are evaluating the appropriate options for ensuring the election was conducted with integrity, that all teacher intentions were properly accounted for and that parents and teacher can have confidence in the final results,” Yes Newberry Facebook wrote.

The supervisor of elections is allowing the Yes Newberry team more time to review the process to certify the final teacher vote outcome, according to the Yes Newberry Facebook post

Oakview Middle School needed 413 families to participate and 207 families to vote yes. Of the 378 ballots cast, 134 families voted yes for the conversion, while 244 voted no. The parent initiative failed to pass at Oakview Middle. 

To pass among the teachers, the school needed 27 teachers to vote yes. Of the 51 eligible full-time teachers, nine voted yes and 40 voted against the initiative. Two teachers abstained from the vote and those abstentions were counted as no. 

Both the teacher and family vote failed to pass at the middle school.

The parent vote at Newberry High School also failed with 626 families eligible to vote, only 314 needed to vote. Of the 263 ballots cast, 114 voted yes and 149 voted no. 

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Twenty-nine full-time teachers were eligible to vote. There were 17 teachers who voted yes for the initiative and six who voted no. Six teachers abstained from the vote, which were counted as no votes. The teacher vote at Newberry High School passed, but without a passing parent vote the initiative at the high school ultimately failed.

“With regards to the middle and high schools, we respect the democratic process and understand that the teachers and parents have spoken and will respect the results,” Yes Newberry Facebook wrote.

Contact Megan Howard at mhoward@alligator.org. Follow her on X @meganmhxward.

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Megan Howard

Megan Howard is a second-year journalism major and the K-12 Education reporter for The Alligator. When she's not writing, you can find her rewatching the Eras Tour movie or reading The Hunger Games series.


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