On Wednesday, Oct. 9, GCSA hosted “The State of Georgia Charter Schools” at Savannah Classical Academy in Savannah. The event was the last of three informational forums GCSA held statewide in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Education (Charter Schools Division) and the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia.
Attendees were welcomed to the event by GCSA President and CEO Tony Roberts.
“We are at your disposal,” Roberts told board members and school leaders at the event. “Never let us forget that we work for you. If you need anything, please contact us. We’re a statewide organization, and we want to support you.”
Event participants then heard from Barry Lollis, Director of Savannah Classical Academy. Lollis greeted attendees and gave them a brief overview of Savannah Classical’s curriculum and mission.
Following Lollis’ remarks, Elisa Falcó, GCSA’s Executive Vice President of School Success, told attendees about the strong governance, culturally responsive pedagogy and implicit bias training the association offers as well as a multitude of services that include the association’s Board Bank program, crisis communications assistance and GaTAPP, an alternative certification program for teachers. She also informed leaders that GCSA has received approval from the Georgia Department of Education to provide a Financial Management Certification program for school leaders, CFOs, other financial team members and anyone in school leadership. Falcó said GCSA plans to align services to performance frameworks.
Aarti Sharma, GCSA’s Vice President of New School Development spoke about the mission and success of GCSA’s Charter Incubator program. RaShaun Holliman, GCSA’s Sr. Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations, unveiled Georgia Charter Schools Association’s policy agenda and strategy for the 2020 legislative session.
Kerry Pritchard, Accountability Manager with the Georgia Department of Education, gave key regulatory, support and accountability updates that included information on the charter school lottery process, an upcoming Charter Schools Rule revision, the recent distribution of State Facilities Grants, an online application process that will be rolled out later this year and next steps in the Comprehensive Performance Framework the department has developed.
Participants then heard from Morgan Felts, Chief Operations Officer for the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia. Felts gave an overview of the SCSC’s mission, diverse portfolio of schools and work to authorize, support and hold schools accountable. She also spoke about SCSC research initiatives, updates to the SCSC’s Comprehensive Performance Framework and guidance on newly approved legislation. Felts informed attendees that the SCSC recently approved the largest number of petitions for new schools in its history and gave back more than $4.4 million to schools in FY19 through the reduced withhold.
During the event, participants received a free lunch generously provided by GCSA Associate Member The Healthy School Food Collaborative. The forum ended with a tour of Savannah Classical Academy. Those in attendance included school leaders and board members from Coastal Empire Montessori Charter School, Susie King Taylor Community School, Tybee Island Maritime Academy, Oglethorpe Charter School and Savannah Classical Charter School. Petitioners and the founder of the newly approved Savannah Exploratory Charter Academy also took part in the event.