The History of FORZA Education Management
FORZA Education Management is a full-service education management organization providing its schools an all-inclusive collection of management services focusing on an inclusive educational approach to enhance each school’s optimum level of success.
FORZA provides a full range of services including expertise in the areas of budget and finance, human resources, academic support, and an education delivery system enhancing student learning gains, (including curriculum development, student assessment and monitoring, effective and dynamic teaching methods, effective classroom management techniques, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Plan, an English Language Learner (ELL) Plan, Gifted students, grant writing and implementation), compliance reporting, building acquisition, start-up assistance, communications and marketing, technology, special projects, and risk management.
FORZA Education Management's commitment to “Giving Parents a Choice and Children a Chance” is evident in its successful ventures and community partnerships. Established in January 2013, FORZA's name itself, which means "strength" in Italian, reflects the determination with which they approach their educational initiatives.
FORZA’s Significant Milestones:
1. Naples STEM Charter School: In July 2013, FORZA opened the first charter school in Naples, and its first large-scale STEM charter school and preschool, enrolling 300 children and having 300 more on the waitlist. This immediate demand illustrates FORZA's educational approach’s positive impact on the community.
2. Transformation of Bonita Prep and Fitness Academy: In July 2016, FORZA assumed the management of Bonita Prep and Fitness Academy, rebranding it as Oak Creek Charter School of Bonita Springs. This K-8 institution, with a focus on preparation and fitness, has experienced significant improvements and growth, including a new 17,000 sq ft facility, upgraded playgrounds, shaded basketball courts, and a synthetic turf athletic field.
3. Expansion to Parrish: FORZA extended its community impact to Parrish, FL, with the opening of Parrish Charter Academy and two additional preschools in August 2019. The charter school, located on 9.9 acres with a 24,000 sq ft facility, is complemented by a full-size athletic field, shaded playground areas, and a basketball court. The FORZA Child Development Center, both on the charter school's campus and a standalone center at the original 1924 Parrish Schoolhouse, further reinforces their dedication to early childhood education.
4. Community Collaboration: FORZA's collaboration with the Parrish Community Foundation showcases its commitment to community-driven initiatives. The conversion and renovation of the original 1924 Parrish Schoolhouse into a state-of-the-art preschool demonstrates their focus on creating positive educational environments. In addition, FORZA Education Management is collaborating with the Parrish Civic Association to help secure property for a new community center that will serve as a focal point for social gatherings, educational workshops, recreational activities, and other community-based events.
5. Future Expansion: FORZA's plans to open an additional large-scale K-8 STEAM charter school, North River Charter Academy, and an additional preschool in the Parrish community underscores their intention to keep providing quality educational options to children and families. These expansion initiatives, specifically, were propelled by the Parrish community, local leaders, and business owners.
6. Safety and Security Enhancements: FORZA Education Management partners with its wide network of state-wide vendors, and local businesses to ensure its schools are safe and secure. Each school has been provided with financial support to enhance safety and security measures, such as the addition of cameras, key fob access systems, single-entry lobbies, outdoor signage and fencing, and school guardians/resource officers.
7. School Transportation: FORZA made the financial decision to develop an internal bus transportation network rather than renting buses on an annual basis. By negotiating affordable purchase agreements, this network now includes a total of 17 buses, which provide transportation for approximately 1,100 students. This internal network effectively reduces the operational costs of each school, resulting in substantial savings annually. This, in turn, enables the allocation of funds towards other pursuits.
8. Bond Financing and Investments: After analyzing the rental agreements for each school and the impact annual escalators have on their budgets, FORZA initiated its first bond acquisition with Gulf Coast Charter in 2018 and continued this support with Oak Creek Charter in 2020, and Parrish Charter in 2022. By securing bond financing, each school was able to reduce its annual payments and keep payments consistent which allows the schools to use these additional financial resources to support student achievement. Additionally, in the spring of 2023, FORZA and the governing board of each school partnered with AMG Investments to invest its bond reserves and other available capital in securities and treasuries. This provides additional revenue at a rate of return between 4.1% and 4.7% annually. The resulting funds are subsequently allocated towards the acquisition of educational materials, technological resources, supplementary teaching aids, and prospective expansion initiatives, among others.
9. Marketing and Recruitment: FORZA employs marketing professionals to assist its schools with the development of promotional items, TV and radio advertisements, social media campaigns, Mail Drop advertisements, local events, and the acquisition of sponsorships and donations. Additionally, FORZA’s marketing team manages the schools’ websites and social media accounts to ensure that information is revised frequently. The team also organizes FORZA’s participation at teacher recruitment fairs, held by local colleges and universities, in an effort to hire highly qualified educators.
10. Additional Supports: To respond to school-specific needs, FORZA Education Management employs additional staff to assist with grant writing, leadership training and professional development, and for the National School Lunch Program. Its dedication to site-based management is executed through its two Regional Vice Presidents, Mr. William Staros and Mr. Jose Rubio. They, along with FORZA’s CEO, Mr. Charles Malatesta, regularly visit each school to provide guidance and support to the schools’ leadership teams. A mid-year and end-of-year professional development retreat is scheduled annually to ensure that the leaders of each school are continuously developing their leadership capabilities.
Through these endeavors, FORZA Education Management has truly embodied its company motto, empowering parents with choices and giving children meaningful educational opportunities, while leaving a positive mark on the communities they serve.
Initial Involvement in Charter School Management:
In its inaugural year of 2013, FORZA Education Management embarked on a comprehensive journey with Gulf Coast Charter Academy South in Naples, Florida. This partnership involved a wide range of tasks and services, showcasing FORZA's expertise in education management and operational support.
Key accomplishments in FORZA's initial involvement in the charter school management business can be highlighted through the following accomplishments with Gulf Coast Charter Academy South located in Naples, FL:
1. Charter Application Assistance: FORZA, on behalf of the Board of Directors of Gulf Coast Charter Academy South, revised the schools STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) application. This step is crucial for ensuring the school aligns with its educational goals.
2. Facility Acquisition and Expansion: FORZA managed the process of acquiring a suitable property for the school. The negotiation of a fair lease agreement, the installation of a new playground, and the ordering of necessary furniture, technology, and curriculum were all part of FORZA's comprehensive approach. Additionally, construction on an additional 20,000 square feet of facility space began in March 2013, highlighting the dedication to expanding the school's capacity.
3. Teacher Recruitment: High-quality teachers are essential for a successful educational institution. FORZA started interviewing highly qualified teacher candidates in March 2013, ensuring that the academic team would be prepared for the school's opening in August.
4. Marketing Efforts: FORZA initiated the marketing process to attract both students and teachers to the new school. This early outreach laid the foundation for a successful enrollment process.
5. Policy and Procedure Development: FORZA created all the policies and procedures for the school, including crucial financial procedures, ensuring that the school operates efficiently and transparently.
6. School Opening: Gulf Coast Charter Academy South opened its doors in August 2013, enrolling 300 students in grades K-6. The strong demand for admission is evident from the 300 additional students on the waitlist, demonstrating the community's trust and interest in the school.
7. Future Expansion Planning: Recognizing the need for accommodating the students on the waitlist, FORZA swiftly initiated negotiations with the landlord to acquire an additional 20,000 square feet of facility space for the 2014-2015 school year. This forward-looking approach indicates FORZA's commitment to the school's growth and its dedication to meeting the educational needs of the community.
FORZA’s Continual Impact on Schools:
FORZA Education Management's involvement with various educational institutions, including Gulf Coast Charter Academy South, Oak Creek Charter School of Bonita Springs, and Parrish Charter Academy, highlights a strong commitment to transforming and enhancing the quality of education, facilities, and overall learning environments. Here's an overview of the significant milestones and accomplishments:
Gulf Coast Charter Academy South:
The initial facility construction and expansion in 2013 marked the dedication to providing a suitable environment for learning and play. The school opened with 300 students and quickly doubled its enrollment in the second year.
Under the leadership of Ms. Gwen DaPore and Mr. William Staros, the school achieved an A-rating. Mr. Staros continued the academic success which helped the school become a High-Performing Charter School within the state of Florida, thus allowing the school to apply for and receive a 15-year charter.
The school also undertook significant infrastructure enhancements, including the addition of playground equipment, shade structures, a basketball court, and a synthetic turf athletic area.
Oak Creek Charter School of Bonita Springs:
FORZA assumed the management in 2016 when the school faced academic and financial challenges, facility disrepair, and limited resources.
A complete transformation was achieved within a short period, involving facility renovations, technology upgrades, curriculum development, and the addition of essential amenities like a computer lab, playground, and PE equipment.
Strategic leadership by Ms. Gwen Dapore and Mr. Jose Rubio led to increased enrollment, improved academic performance, and an eventual charter contract renewal for five years.
The construction of a new state-of-the-art facility further demonstrated the commitment to quality education and growth.
Parrish Charter Academy:
FORZA's partnership with Parrish Charter Academy focused on Expeditionary Learning (EL), culminating in its opening in 2019.
The school opened with grades K-3 and will expand to K-8 by the 2024-2025 school year.
FORZA's involvement extends to the construction of a new two-story, state-of-the-art facility with numerous amenities and enhancements, including playground equipment, media center/library, turf field, courtyard, parking, safety features, and more.
The new facility is scheduled to open in early 2024 and will increase enrollment to 1,300 students.
FORZA Child Development Centers:
FORZA established its Child Development Centers in Naples (2014), Bonita Springs (2016), and Parrish (2019).
FORZA worked with the Parrish Community Foundation to establish its first stand-alone Child Development Center at the 1924 Parrish Schoolhouse.
The Child Development Centers have been supported by FORZA as they have worked to attain their national accreditation through the Association for Early Learning Leaders (AELL).
Currently, the four centers serve approximately 350 students.
Each Child Development Center provides a seamless transition to its K-8 partner by focusing the curriculum on the theme of each charter school.
Overall, FORZA Education Management's consistent dedication to the over 2,100 students and 200 staff members it serves has resulted in remarkable turnarounds, growth, and enhancements. The organization's ability to manage operations, lead renovations, improve academic performance, and create positive learning environments showcases its expertise in education management and commitment to educational excellence.