Georgia Charter Schools Association team members traveled to Albany on Friday, Aug. 31, and Savannah on Friday, Sept. 7, for two remaining “State of Georgia Charter Schools” events. GCSA was thrilled to meet with board members and school leaders from across the state.
Those who attended the State of Georgia Charter Schools at Oglethorpe Charter School in Savannah and the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany
learned about Georgia’s current charter school landscape and had the opportunity to voice their opinions during interactive sessions led by Georgia Charter Schools Association President and CEO Tony Roberts. He told charter school leaders and board members that GCSA exists to help member schools address their needs, wants and challenges. (Roberts is pictured on the left with Henry Perry, Board CEO, Oglethorpe Charter School).
“This is your association,” said Roberts. “We are here to serve you.”
Elisa A. Falco´, GCSA’s Executive Vice President of School Success, gave an overview of the association and its key staff members. She also spoke about essential training opportunities that promote increased academic, financial and organizational success. In Albany, Aarti Sharma, GCSA Vice President of New School Development, told attendees about GCSA’s charter school incubator. She stressed the need for
new charter schools and the replication of high-quality charter schools throughout Georgia. Sharma also spoke about the GCSA Charter School Leadership Center. The Leadership Center is designed to support new and aspiring charter school leaders. RaShaun Holliman, GCSA Vice President of Advocacy, urged leaders and board members to get teachers, parents and students involved with charter school advocacy efforts at Georgia’s Capitol. He said it’s important to build on the success of the last legislative session, which led to the passage of House Bill 787. HB 787 increases the state supplement for state-authorized charter schools and allows for forward funding for all Georgia charter schools. (Holliman and Falco´ are pictured below with Kathaleena Edward Monds, Professor of Information Systems at Albany State University, during “State of Georgia Charter Schools” in Albany).
Participants also heard from the State Charter Schools Commission. In Savannah, Gregg Stevens, Deputy Director and General Counsel with the State Charter Schools Commission, went into greater depth on how funding for schools will be calculated under HB 787. In Albany, Morgan Felts, Associate General Counsel and Petitions Manager for the SCSC, shared similar funding information. Stevens and Felts said state charter schools will collectively receive $40 million this school year. Both thanked GCSA for advocating for the bill and making its passage a reality. They say the increased funding will make a huge difference for state-authorized charter schools. And Stevens said all Georgia public charter schools will benefit from forward funding. Previously, charter schools had trouble expanding because funding was based on the previous year and it was difficult for charter schools to float the costs of additional students and teachers.
“I would argue that the forward funding has the potential to make the greatest impact on school choice in Georgia,” said Stevens. “…If a charter school expands a grade by more than two percent, they will get funding that year.”
Allen Mueller, Director, District Flexibility and Charter Schools Division
for the Georgia Department of Education, spoke about new and proposed policies and rules the department is considering or implementing. Mueller said the department has developed new charter school academic performance framework and is working to implement performance framework for district authorizers. He also said the GaDOE is seeking to participate in interviews between local school districts and charter schools as they are being considered for authorization or charter renewal.
In Savannah, attendees heard from Charter School Capital during lunch. The event sponsor told participants about opportunities for facilities financing and programs the company offers to help schools with enrollment marketing and energy efficiency.
The Albany and Savannah events followed a “State of Georgia Charter Schools” meeting held at the Historic Academy of Medicine on Georgia Tech’s campus on Monday, Aug. 20. These events will be held annually each fall.