Georgia Charter Schools Association wants to thank the member schools that attended Charter School Advocacy Day on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Advocacy Day kicked off with a breakfast at the Georgia Freight Depot. During the breakfast, students at The RISE Schools spoke about the difference their charter school is making in their lives. Attendees also had the opportunity to see a moving dance performance by Ivy Preparatory Academy scholars and a special song by vocalists at Fulton Leadership Academy.
GCSA’s President and CEO Tony Roberts spoke about the importance of overcoming funding disparities that remain between charter and traditional schools. He said the funding challenges exist despite the passage of legislation championed by GCSA such as the House Bill 787 in 2018 and an additional $2 million in State Facilities Grants in 2019. HB 787 annually provides millions of dollars in additional funding to state charter schools and forward funding to cover the cost of enrollment growth for all Georgia charter schools.
“Most public charter schools only receive 70 to 75 percent of the funding compared to traditional public schools. That gap normally exists because charter schools have to build, buy or rent their facilities,” said Roberts. “That’s why GCSA is continuing to work to provide additional funding for facilities.”
State Sen. Lester Jackson (D – Savannah) told attendees that public charter schools provide Georgia families and students with additional options to find the learning environment that best suits their individual needs. He said charter schools are part of the solution to public education.
“Not only do public charters have a place, they have a reason to exist, and that is making a difference to young people,” said Jackson.
State Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) spoke about the need to put students at the center of every decision and modernize public education. He told charter school leaders and students despite the difficulties they will encounter, they have an obligation to advocate for change in public education so more in Georgia and the U.S. have an opportunity to receive an exceptional public education.
“The good news is I think this movement, the charter movement is going to be the vehicle to make it happen,” said Jones. “…We’re still climbing. We’re going to be hit with more no’s and more pushback. We’re going to be hit with, ‘that’s not how it’s done here. That’s not how we like to do it. That’s not the normal way, the consistent way, the county way, the state way, the federal way,’ you name it, but ultimately we have to keep pushing past each of those no’s and we’re going to do it through innovation.”
Parents, students and school leaders from a dozen Georgia charter schools spent the remainder of the day engaging with elected officials about facilities funding and other key charter school issues at the Georgia Capitol.