Georgia Charter School Amendment Dies in House

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Georgia House of Representatives Wednesday defeated a constitutional amendment aimed at allowing the state to create charter schools.

While 110 lawmakers supported the proposal and 62 voted against it, the measure failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to approve constitutional amendments.

As many of you are aware, CSD adamantly opposed the amendment, which would have overridden a State Supreme Court decision last year which ruled the State Charter School commission was unconstitutional.  Many metro Atlanta school systems opposed the commission because it was granted the authority to single-handedly create local charter schools – and thus divert per-student funding – without any consent from local populations.

Thanks to Steve for forwarding!

Fulton Judge Rules In Favor of Georgia Charter Schools

The AJC reports that Fulton Superior Court Judge Wendy L. Shoob ruled in favor of Georgia’s charter schools today, in a lawsuit brought by seven school districts, who challenged that the charter school legislation was unconstitutional.

It is not an independent school system,” Shoob said. “The General Assembly has provided sufficient guidelines. Commission charter schools are not required to be under the control or managed by an elected board of education. The funding is constitutional.”

Though Decatur could not formall join the lawsuit against the charter schools because it was determined that they had suffered no direct damages as a result of the charter school legislation, Decatur’s school board passed a resolution in December backing actions of the seven school districts.

Meanwhile, Avondale’s new charter, The Museum School, just broke ground on a temporary facility at 3191 Covington Highway yesterday.

As Avondale Charter School Plans For Lottery, Tensions Between Decatur & Avondale Remain

While there has been heated debate in the past year over the legality of Georgia’s new charter school law, which gives a state board authority to create charter schools around the state, there’s little debate about the popularity of its latest iteration in Avondale Estates: The Museum School.

According to a press release sent out by the school and pasted on the AJC’s Get Schooled blog, a lottery will be held tomorrow at Avondale Estates City Hall to determine which students currently living in DeKalb’s Avondale and Midway Woods attendance zones will make up the first classes of kindergarten to third-graders.  After this initial year, the school will add a grade a year up to eighth grade.

With such intense demand, what’s the controversy?  Well, like with anything involving a child’s education, it’s exceedingly complicated.

Continue reading “As Avondale Charter School Plans For Lottery, Tensions Between Decatur & Avondale Remain”

So Close to Charter School Status You Can Taste It

The AJC is reporting that the state BOE’s Charter School Committee gave unanimous approval to Decatur’s charter school application yesterday. Today, it goes before the Board of Education again for approval. If its approved, that’s it. Decatur becomes a charter system. No more hurdles or red tape.

The AJC seems to think that because of the unanimous approval by the charter school committee, Decatur is a shoe-in. Marietta on the other hand, only passed by a 3-2 vote and therefore might face greater criticism today during the full board meeting.

All will be revealed today! Stay tuned to DM for more exhilarating charter school red-tape coverage!

Charter School Day of Reckoning Tomorrow

The State Board of Education should vote tomorrow on whether to grant charter status to the Decatur, Marietta and Gainesville school systems.

The AJC has a full recap, but basically it boils down to a debate over leadership. The State Board wants parents and staff to have near-absolute control, while the cities applications look to retain some power with the school board.

After the issue was surprisingly tabled last month, each of the cities sent in “clarification letters” to the state board, but did not alter their applications.

Decatur’s 7 page letter can be read here. [h/t: inDecatur]

Upset! Decatur Charter App Gets Tabled Due To Leadership Issues

Wow.  I don’t think anyone saw this coming.

Yesterday, after quickly approving the Warren County charter application, the State Board of Ed got stuck on Decatur’s nomination.  According to the Gainesville Times

“Gainesville City Schools was fourth on the list for a vote, but the board never got to it, after discussing the application of Decatur Schools system at length. Cox recommended Decatur get systemwide charter status, but a charter school study committee recommended it be denied by a vote of 5-0, said committee chair Linda Zechman, who is also a state board of education member.

After lengthy discussion, board members decided to defer a decision on the other school systems because both Cox and state board chair Wanda Barrs had to leave the meeting at 5 p.m.”

As for the reasons it was denied, we look to the AP article on the decision…

“Some board members said they likely won’t approve the other applications even if revisions are made because the districts refuse to accept a fundamental piece of creating a charter school – reducing the role of school boards and superintendents in running schools.

“I really don’t believe power is being given to these schools in these petitions,” board member Mary Sue Polleys said.”

And the AJC...

“[The] Second [application] was supposed to be Decatur, although that’s when the wheels appeared to come of the wagon; because of the months-long review and the recommended approval by Cox, most presumed Decatur’s application would be approved.

But several members specifically voiced displeasure with how Decatur would involve parents and staff in leading individual schools. Decatur plans involved “leadership teams” of parents and community members that would have a bigger say than ever in finance and program decisions. But members said they did not think it was enough.

“Perhaps an interpretation [of the proposal] would be they met minimum requirements,” board member Mary Sue Polleys said. “I don’t believe they are very different than what schools have been doing with site-based management since the 1990s.”

We’ll have to see how far CDS is willing go to get approval.  It sounds like they will have to make some serious modifications on how the school system is led (reducing the power of the school board and superintendent) to get consideration from the board.

They have until next month’s State Board of Ed meeting to make the needed modifications.

Decatur Rocks Charter School App; Approval "Highly Likely"

Like a star pupil, City of Decatur Schools stands alone.

According to the AJC, Decatur’s charter school application was the only one that recently met the approval of a state review committee.  According to the paper, the State Broad of Ed is also expected to give a final nod to Decatur’s application.

Like less motivated students, the other four districts were told their applications needed revision.  Marietta City; Gainesville City; Warren County, near Augusta; and Chattahoochee County, near Columbus were recently informed that their plans to achieve goals and improve student performance were too darn vague and needed beefing up.

You gotta give CDS and all involved (including residents) a lot of credit for this achievement.  It’s just further evidence that we really think about and consider policy in this city.  We don’t just jump blindly into things seeking approval and funding like…ahem…some folks.

Now it really sounds like Decatur will be the state’s poster child for its new, unique charter school system.

As a result, will we begin seeing strong conservative support from the capitol for the state’s most liberal city?