Students in the Florida Keys will have a new option when it comes to high school this coming fall. 

The College of the Florida Keys held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 18 to celebrate the near-completion of its CFK Academy, a charter high school on the college’s Key West campus. 

The school aims to enroll 85 students in its first year, and then increase that enrollment to about 220 students over five years, said Jonathan Gueverra, the college president.

The goal of CFK Academy, Gueverra said, is to enable students to graduate from high school with both a diploma and an associate’s degree, which could eliminate two years’ worth of costly college tuition for students ultimately seeking a bachelor’s degree.

“The state of Florida has provided catalyst funds for charter schools on college campuses so students can save money on their higher education,” Gueverra said. “The goal is to make Florida a place where education is affordable.”

With a charter high school on the college campus, students will be able to take college-level classes for college credit without traveling back and forth from Key West High School to the college, as Key West High School students do, for traditional dual-enrollment classes.

“We’ll offer seamless schedules, and parents don’t have to worry about transportation between two schools, even if they’re only a mile or so apart,” Gueverra said. “We want to do anything we can to make things more convenient and conducive for them. The students will also get exposure and access to our career, technical and apprenticeship programs.”

The new CFK Academy building will have the same security requirements as traditional high schools, and college students will not have access to the high school building, said Brittney Snyder, executive vice president of the college.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.