Friday, November 26, 1999
The latest round in the charter school debate between the Coweta County Board of Education and Odyssey School officials will probably have a sparse audience.
School system officials announced this week that a called meeting of the school board is set for Monday at 7 a.m. During the meeting, the board will consider the latest petition by Odyssey School officials to obtain the board's blessing to start a charter school in the county.
Superintendent of education Richard Brooks explained the system had no other choice but to call the early bird meeting.
We have to vote on this by Nov. 29 because we were given a 60-day time frame to study it. The early start is the only time that people could get together because of work schedules, he said.
The debate over granting a charter school petition to the Odyssey School group has been simmering since last April.
The state General Assembly passed a law in 1997 allowing charter schools. Charter schools generally allow more parental involvement in curriculum and also allow the schools to hire professionals in various fields to help teach the curriculum.
The dispute went to third party mediation last spring when the Odyssey group felt it was not given a fair hearing by the Coweta County school board April 23.
The group took its concerns to the state Board of Education, who ordered the mediation.
But after nearly nine hours of mediation, the issue was still not settled and the Odyssey School group submitted another petition.
Odyssey School officials wanted the school to start last August and said if the facility couldn't be completed, portable facilities would be used.
The school has a goal of opening with 100 students, but did not provide the school system with the names of any students who wanted to enroll.
The school system also claims that the proposed charter school would not be locally ruled. Three of the four initial directors live outside the county.
Brooks said the board turned down the petition because Odyssey School officials had submitted another petition Sept. 30 and the board had to deal with the fourth petition before it could consider the one submitted last week.
Brooks said the board would have to decide on the latest petition by Monday and said it would fall under the system's new charter school policy, which calls for a site to be identified.