Atlanta’s Tech High Charter School Plans to Close
Reduced Funding from APS Gives Final Blow
Atlanta, GA (July 9, 2012) – After eight years of operation, and strong academic results, Tech High School, a public charter school in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) system, will close. The Governing Board’s decision was based on a determination that the school could not operate with the reduced funding announced by Atlanta Public Schools.
The school enrolled 200 students (mostly minorities) in grades 9-12 and offered a unique technology-focused charter high school option for Atlanta parents and students.
In 2011 Tech High School received the Academic Gold Award from the Governor’s office of student achievement for its 13.28% gain in students who met or exceeded testing standards. At its highest enrollment level, the school had a 90% high school graduation rate, and its 2011 graduates were recipients of more than $1.8 million in scholarships.
Tech High School learned on May 31st that it would be losing a total of $360,000 income for the 2012-2013 academic year.
The crushing news was an APS mandate that district charter schools would have to shoulder the cost of an unfunded employee pension plan dating back to the mid-1970’s. According to an APS spokesman, the estimated cost for charter schools was $1,500 per student to make up for the pension fund shortfall.
Tony Roberts, CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, expressed regret: “The announced reduced funding from APS because of their underfunded pension plan is just plain wrong. No charter school employee in APS has ever benefited from that pension fund. Neither should they have to pay for it! The students and their parents are being forced to pay the highest price for this by being forced to leave their chosen school. They have worked hard and don’t deserve this.”
Kent Antley, Tech High School’s Governing Board Chairman, indicated that the average per-pupil funding for high school students in APS is more than $11,000. With these budget cuts and the pension fund assessment, Tech High would only be spending around $7,400 per-pupil, a figure that could not cover operating costs.
Disappointed parents and students will attend a July 10, 2012 meeting at the school to learn about their enrollment options going forward.
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The Georgia Charter Schools Association is the non-profit membership organization for Georgia’s public charter schools and petitioners. Its mission is to advance awareness of public charter schools, communicate charter school needs to state and local officials, support legislation to strengthen public charter schools in Georgia and build partnerships, collaborations and grassroots support for charter schools. GCSA also provides programs and services that advance student achievement, school accountability and professional learning for charter school leaders.