One-year funding fix will bring schools in line with traditional public schools, however,
long-term financial gap still exists for state chartered special schools
ATLANTA — State officials announced Thursday that a plan forged by Governor Nathan Deal and members of the State legislature will forward fund the bricks-and-mortar state chartered special schools for an amount equal to the average local district share calculated as if locally approved charter schools.
This will bring state chartered special school revenues to approximately 85% of the amount they would have received operating as schools authorized by the now defunct Georgia Charter Schools Commission. The Commission was declared unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in May, thereby jeopardizing the futures of the 16 charter schools serving 18,000 students that had been approved by the Commission earlier.
Two former Commission schools – Ivy Preparatory Academy in Norcross (Gwinnett) and The Museum School of Avondale Estates (DeKalb) – have since been approved by their local school districts. Three – Chattahoochee Hills Charter Academy (Fulton), Heron Bay Academy (Henry / Griffin-Spalding) and Provost Charter Academy (Virtual) – have decided to delay opening until the fall of 2012.
The eight schools that will be able to take advantage of the funding
Atlanta Heights Charter School (Atlanta Public Schools)
Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology (Bulloch County)
Cherokee Charter Academy (Cherokee County)
Coweta Charter Academy (Coweta County)
Fulton Leadership Academy (Fulton County)
Heritage Preparatory Academy (Atlanta Public Schools)
Pataula Charter Academy (Baker, Clay, Calhoun, Early Randolph Counties)
Odyssey School (Coweta County)
Georgia Charter Schools Association President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Roberts said: “On behalf of the thousands of children and parents who will benefit from this, our deepest thanks go to Governor Nathan Deal, House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, and State Superintendent John Barge for acting quickly and meaningfully to make sure these charter school students could continue in their school of choice.
“Governor Deal said at the beginning of this crisis that he would provide for the children in these charter schools and he has now fulfilled his promise with this supplemental funding. Governor Deal’s action followed the streamlined approval process for state special charter schools and charters approved by districts that was immediately put into place by State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge.”
However, Roberts expressed concern about funding the state chartered special schools beyond this first year as well as the continuing need for an independent authorizer. “If we expect our charter schools to perform at the highest levels, they must be undergirded with equitable funding on a par with all other public schools” Roberts said. “For now, this is a critical and much-appreciated one-year relief package, and while it is extremely helpful, there is still much work to be done. We urge our Governor and legislature to move forward with plans to ensure that students all over Georgia have the option to attend high-quality charter schools that are sufficiently funded to do their important work.”