On Monday, Aug. 19, Georgia Charter Schools Association hosted the first of three “State of Georgia Charter Schools” events at Westside Atlanta Charter School. Approximately 90 charter school leaders and board members were in attendance.
Tony Roberts, GCSA’s President and CEO, and Delana Reeves, Principal of Westside Atlanta Charter School welcomed participants. Roberts told attendees that the Georgia Charter Schools Association is here to serve them.
“You are the association, and we are partners,” said Roberts. “The more we partner together, the more we can get done, and the more good we can do for our students.”
Elisa Falco, 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 and other financial team members. Falco 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. Bonnie Holliday, GCSA’s Executive Vice President of Policy and External Relations, and RaShaun Holliman, GCSA Sr. Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations, unveiled Georgia Charter Schools Association’s legislative and policy agenda and strategy for the 2020 legislative session.
Lou Erste, Associate Superintendent for Policy, Charter Schools, Flexibility and Governmental Affairs at 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. Allen Mueller, Director of District Flexibility and Charter Schools Division; and Kerry Pritchard, Accountability Manager, District Flexibility and Charter Schools Division at the Georgia Department of Education joined Erste in his presentation.
Lauren Holcomb, the Executive Director of the State Charter Schools Commission, 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. She told those attending 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.
Following the presentation, participants received a free lunch provided by GCSA Associate Members and event co-sponsors Joe Costa & Associates, Inc. and Atlantic Capital Bank.