Decisions Reflect Rigor and Attention to Underserved Communities |
Atlanta, GA August 30, 2014 – High quality charter school options will continue to expand in Georgia thanks to the rigor and diligence of the State Charter Schools Commission (SCSC) petition review process.
At a well attended public meeting, the seven-member Commission, green-lighted four new public charter schools, to open in 2015-15. The schools reflect diverse missions and instructional approaches. All four are meeting the needs of underserved communities, and include two much-needed charter high school options. They are:
- Byron Peach Charter High School | grades 9-12 | Peach County | first charter high school in Middle Georgia; mission to provide a rigorous college preparatory curriculum
- Foothills Education Charter High School | grades 9-12 | statewide charter | replicates the highly successful Mountain Education Center; mission to serve high school students at risk of dropping out
- International Charter School of Atlanta | grades K-8 | statewide charter | physical school in North Fulton but open to other counties; mission offer dual-language teaching model using language immersion
- Georgia School for Innovation & the Classics | grades K-12 | statewide charter | to be located in Augusta area; mission to partner with local industry and higher education institutions linking classroom learning with the workplace
Speaking for the Byron Peach Charter High School petitioners, Roy Lewis, the group’s Founding Board Chair, thanked the Commission for approval after a disappointing denial last year. “This is a tremendous opportunity to influence and improve the lives our students and provide hope to their parents. The Charter Start Program offered through the Georgia Charter Schools Association provided expert guidance that helped us get here,” he said.
The Commission denied five petitions for reasons ranging from a lack of capacity to properly govern a school; weak operational plans; poorly articulated plans for community partnerships, to an incomplete strategy for obtaining a facility in an achievable timeframe.
Southwest Georgia STEM Charter was one of the petitions denied. During public comments, State Senator Freddie Powell Sims (D12) spoke passionately of the shocking dropout rates in Randolph County, crumbling school facilities and high poverty in her rural district. She begged the Commissioners to reconsider their decision, as did David Bridges, President of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in rural Tifton, GA. “Our area’s agricultural base has been devastated,” he said. “We must offer stronger academic programs to prepare students for new careers.”
Some petitioners actually will have a chance to be reconsidered. While the Commission formerly rendered “yes” or “no” decisions, for the 2013-14 review cycle, a handful of schools formerly denied were asked to provide additional information and ultimately received SCSC approval.
Three current petitioners – Scintilla Charter Academy (Lowndes County & Valdosta City), DuBois Integrity Academy (Clayton County) and Cirrus Academy Charter School (Bibb County), now have a month to provide additional material. They could be approved at the September Commission meeting, keeping them on track for a 2015-16 opening.
All petitions, plus recommendations for approval, denial or additional information are available to the public on the Commission website, www.scsc.org.