Charter school eyes Senoia

Thu, 03/05/2009 - 4:18pm
By: Ben Nelms

Would a charter school work in Senoia? Charter Schools USA representative Richard Page thinks it would. Page presented the preliminary idea of establishing such a school in the Senoia area at the March 9 city council meeting. The council approved a resolution supporting the endeavor. The company will hold a public meeting next week to explain the proposal.

Senoia City Administrator Richard Ferry said the Senoia proposal by the Florida-based company was for a school serving up to 800 children grades K-8, noting that company representatives said they were proposing similar schools in other parts of metro Atlanta.

Referring to the March 9 presentation, Ferry said Charter selected the city for one of its sites due to the similarity of area growth and demographics, especially in east Coweta and Senoia, with those of areas included in the company’s Florida school communities.

Page told council members that if eventually approved and becoming operational, the charter school would comply with Georgia Performance Standards and the Character Education guide. The company promotes the idea that charter schools are innovative public schools designed by educators, parents or civic leaders that are open by choice, accountable for results, and free from most rules and regulations governing conventional public schools.

Under Georgia law, a charter school is a public school that operates according to the terms of a charter, or contract, that has been approved by a local board of education and the State Board of Education (SBOE). The charter school may request waivers from provisions of Title 20 of Georgia state law and any state or local rule, regulation, policy, or procedure relating to schools in the school district. In exchange for this flexibility, the charter school is bound by contract and held accountable for meeting the performance-based objectives specified in the charter, according to Georgia Dept. of Education (DOE).

A traditional public school is organized according to federal laws, state school laws, State Board of Education rules and local board of education policies. A charter school is organized according to federal laws, applicable state school laws and SBOE rules that cannot be waived and the terms of the charter contract, according to DOE. Georgia has more than 70 charter schools in operation.

Charter schools are public schools. The Georgia Charter Schools Act of 1998 states that a charter school shall be included in the allotment of funds to the local school system in which the charter school is located. The local board and state board shall treat the charter school no less favorably than other local schools in the school district with respect to the provision of funds for instructional and school administration and, where feasible, transportation, food services, and building programs. The amount of money the charter school will receive from the local board will be determined according to the provisions of the Charter Schools Act of 1998, according to DOE.

In addition, the charter school will receive federal funds for special education services and for other categorical program services to the extent to which any pupil is in the charter school is eligible to participate. If additional revenues are needed, the charter school must depend on independent means.

The State Board may terminate a charter if called for by a majority of parents at the school, a majority of faculty and instructional staff employed by the school, or the written request of the school system. The State Board may also terminate upon its own findings.

According to the Charter Schools USA website, a charter school must practice open admission policies, meet health and safety standards and comply with civil rights laws. It is not bound to state education regulations governing curriculum, personnel, scheduling and financial administration.

A charter school is held accountable. Its students must show satisfactory achievement equal to or better than the state average. The school is typically given five years to prove itself, but its charter can be pulled back at any time by a school board if it is not performing as promised. A charter school provides freedom for educators and school founders to use curricula or programs to set up the school day that best meet the needs of the community it is serving, according to company literature.

Charter USA representatives will hold a public informational meeting March 10 at 6 p.m. in the Freeman Sasser Building at Seavy Street Park to explain more about the proposal.

There are now 40 states and the District of Columbia that have charter schools, including Florida. As of September 2006, about 4,000 charter schools are operating across the United States, serving more than a million children. Florida currently has 391 charter schools serving over 100,000 children, according to the company’s website.

Charter operates schools across all grade levels in Miami-Dade, Broward, Brevard, Lee, St. Lucie, Polk and Orange counties. For more information on the company and its programs visit

login to post comments