LAKELAND (FOX 13) - The new school year is just a few weeks away, and some parents are getting a startling wake up call.
The Florida Department of Education just released the names of 44 schools in danger of closing unless they improve. Almost half are in the Bay Area and five are in Polk County.
Kathleen, Denison, Lake Alfred-Addair, Shelley S. Boone and Westwood middle schools in Polk County could go on the chopping block unless certain factors - like test scores - see major improvements.
To get on the state's radar, a school must have gotten an F or 2 consecutive Ds on the state's grading scale.
Polk is not the only county with schools that need to prove themselves. There are six in Hillsborough County, five in Pinellas County, two in Manatee County, and one in Pasco County.
Polk County schools' superintendent said landing on the state's list is not a reflection on teachers.
"They all work hard," Jacqueline Byrd told FOX 13 News. "It's sad that sometimes it comes down to a number. We're going to do what we need to do with our schools moving forward."
Recently, Byrd and administrators from troubled schools across the state went to Tallahassee to present improvement plans. The Department of Education sent many of them back to the drawing board, saying the plans needed more work. The districts will present their new plans next month.
The state could eventually decide to close a school, allow it to go charter, bring in an outside company to run it, or hire consultants and other experts to help the school pull itself up by it's own bootstraps.
No closings would take place until the 2017-2018 school year.