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December 14, 2009 Director of Communications
State Charter Schools Commission Approves Seven Petitions
Two more schools were added to last Thursday’s original list of approvals
ATLANTA – The Georgia Charter Schools Commission announced Monday the approval of seven petitions for charter schools that will begin operating in the fall of 2010:
- Atlanta Heights Charter School. Originally denied a charter by the Atlanta Public Schools, the school will serve students in grades K-8, and is managed by National Heritage Academies, Inc.
- Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia. Originally denied a charter by the Coweta County Public Schools, the school will serve students in grades K-8, and is operated by Charter Schools USA.
- Fulton Leadership Academy. Originally denied a charter by the Fulton County Public Schools, the school will serve students in grades 6-12, and will be the nation’s first all-boys school with a focus on careers in the aeronautical industry.
- Heron Bay Academy. Originally denied a charter by the Henry County and Griffin-Spalding Public Schools, the school will serve students in grades K-8, and is managed by Mosaica Education, Inc.
- The Museum School of Avondale Estates. Originally denied a charter by the DeKalb County Public Schools, it will serve students in grades K-8.
- Pataula Charter Academy will serve students in grades K-8, living in Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Early and Randolph Counties in southwest Georgia.
- Peachtree Hope Charter School. Originally denied by the DeKalb County Public Schools, the school will serve students in grades K-12, and is operated by SABIS Educational Systems, Inc.
Commission reviewed, considered more than 30 petitions
Back in August, more than 30 petitions were submitted to the Commission, a seven-member alternative authorizing group created by the passage of House Bill 881 during the 2008 Legislative Session. The Commission’s members were appointed by the State Board of Education on the recommendation of the Governor (3), Lieutenant Governor (2) and House Speaker (2).
The petitions were then divided for review among seven panels, each headed by a Commission member. The panels consisted of education professionals from throughout the country.
Of the seven petitioners recommend for approval, three consulted with the Georgia Charter Schools Association, prior to submitting their petition.
“This was an historic day for education in Georgia. At the same time as Secretary Arne Duncan was having a listening session in Atlanta, the Georgia Charter Schools Commission approved its first round of new charter schools, said Georgia Charter Schools Association Chief Executive Officer Tony Roberts, Ph.D. “While only seven of the 28 petitioners were approved, we believe this marks the beginning of new educational options for Georgia’s children. All but one of these had been denied earlier by local school districts. There are other petitioners that we hope to help refine their petitions and assist in any other way to prepare them for re-application in the next approval cycle.”
“Today we approved seven schools that will serve students in neighborhoods with struggling traditional public schools,” remarked Ben Scafidi, Ph.D., Chairman of the Commission. “I am proud that students in rural Southwest Georgia will now have their first ever charter school option and students in the Atlanta metro area will have enhanced public school options.”
Scafidi and the Commission encouraged the 21 petitioners whose applications were denied to refine their school plans, continue to build community support, and reapply in next year’s cycle.
Andrew Broy, Georgia’s Associate State Superintendent for Policy and External Affairs, said, “I applaud the Commission for the rigor of its process and for the discernment with which it examined the charter school applications.”
Commission had previously approved two schools
If approved, the newly recommended charter schools are scheduled to open in the fall of 2010, and join the Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology (Statesboro) and Ivy Preparatory Academy (Norcross) as charter schools approved by the Commission. Both had been operating as State Charter Special Schools, which are funded at a fraction of the amount of traditional public schools.
Charter schools approved by the Commission are eligible to be funded at the same level as the traditional public schools in their respective districts.
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ABOUT THE GCSA
The Georgia Charter Schools Association is the nonprofit membership organization for Georgia’s charter school operators and petitioners, established in 2001. The mission of the GCSA is to be an effective advocate and service provider for all charter public schools in Georgia by:
- Advancing awareness of charter schools and their mission.
- Increasing awareness that charter schools are public schools.
- Communicating charter school needs to state and local officials.
- Supporting legislation to strengthen charter schools in Georgia.
- Facilitating opportunities for networking/collaboration among charter schools in Georgia and nationwide.
- Developing and implementing programs and services that advance student achievement, accountability and success in all of Georgia’s charter schools.