Senoia charter school proposal under review

Thu, 06/11/2009 - 3:29pm
By: Ben Nelms

The attempt to start up a charter school in Senoia is officially in the pipeline. The Coweta County School Board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee will review the proposal and come back to the board with a recommendation, likely by the July meeting.

Board Chairman Steve Bedrosian at the June 9 meeting said the school system received the petition from Charter Schools USA on May 15. Georgia law stipulates that a school system has 60 days to review the petition and render a decision, Bedrosian said.

Bedrosian asked the Curriculum and Instruction Committee to assume the responsibility of reviewing the Charter Schools USA proposal for a K-8 school and bring a recommendation to the full board. Bedrosian said the proposal could be considered at the July board meeting or at one called prior to that time.

The Curriculum and Instruction Committee includes board members Sue Brown, Mike Sumner and Winston Dowdell.

If approved to operate, the Senoia school would be a public school with no tuition and open to countywide enrollment. The school would be part of the Coweta school system with funding from public dollars. The school would be required to maintain accountability to the county and state for results. Charter schools are tied to Georgia Performance Standards.

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 will 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.

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