Charter questions need answers
September 14, 2012 12:00 AM | 3137 views | 5 5 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

Cherokee County School Board member Michael Geist seems confused why he is getting so much negative feedback about the lack of fiscal controls in the charter school amendment he supports.

I will clarify the issues by explaining how the Cherokee Charter Academy (CCA) was funded and how the charter school amendment fails to protect taxpayers. According to a recent newspaper article, CCA’s owner/operators (a private company) were given over $1 million of taxpayer money as start-up capital.

CCA’s owner/operators receive a management contract that pays them close to $1 million a year (a rate that is higher on a percentage basis than what Cherokee spends on our public schools). These funds are above and beyond the additional, regular operating money charter schools receive from the school district.

CCA’s owner/operators were not required to purchase a guaranteed bond (a form of insurance) that pays the school district in the event the CCA closes midyear (and dumps over 1,000 students back into the system).

If CCA goes out of business — which looks increasingly likely — its owner/operators get to keep the $1 million start-up capital (and/or whatever assets they bought with it) and have no liabilities.

Why would anyone support giving a private company over a million dollars, guaranteed profit, and no downside risk?

This is a terrible deal for taxpayers. We should not support forcing taxpayers to capitalize private companies or give them no-obligation government contracts.

As a public school board member, their duty is to protect the school’s assets, not look for creative ways to squander them.

The taxpayers of Cherokee have already been burned with similar deals. For example, we may lose $50 million that went to fund a private recycler that went bust (leaving taxpayers again holding the bag). As you well know, taxpayers across the country have already lost massive amounts of money in poorly structured charter schools deals.

For the record, I support charter schools and believe they play an important and positive role in our education system. What I do not support is officeholders that make foolish and emotional decisions with taxpayer money.

Taxpayers of Cherokee County would appreciate answers to questions from those supporting the state charter amendment including a list of other school district services a vendor can perform where taxpayers provide free start-up capital and guaranteed revenue, all with no penalty for failure to perform.

Assuming that a list can’t be provide, why would anyone support the private owner/operators of the Cherokee Charter Academy receiving such a deal?

Why would anyone support a charter amendment that does not include the taxpayer protections needed to prevent CCA-like deals from happening again?

John Konop

Canton

Comments
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Sick of it all
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September 28, 2012
Here's an answer to your stupid question, and to every other stupid question being directed towards charter schools vs. public schools. This answer is so simple, even you can understand it. Ready?

It's the taxpayer's money, not the government's money. Let the taxpayer decide where they want that money spent, nothing more, nothing less.

Angela DeAngelo
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September 14, 2012
My daughter is a student at Cherokee Charter Academy because I chose to enroll her there because her academic needs were not being my by CCSD schools/teachers. Please don't refer to her as if she were trash that would be "dumped" back on CCSD schools should Cherokee Charter Academy be forced to close because of the backward, rather than innovative, nature of Cherokee County.
Maly
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September 14, 2012
To answer your question hopefully, did you know that the managing company gave almost 1 million dollars back to the school last year. They didn't receive any money for payment at all, for making money. Also, the local BOE keeps the money for each child that is going to CCA, so even if the CCA dissolves then all that means is that the local BOE is now going to be required to teach the children they are already receiving payment for. Charter Schools will not be receiving money from the local BOE's. The local tax dollar will stay in the county with the local BOE's. The only money that charter schools like CCA will be getting are state funds and federal funds. So, I think this is a win win situation. The local BOE's keep local tax dollars for that child and Charter is helping with the over crowing of the classes. Not understanding what the problem is. Also Charter Schools are held to a higher standard of education. If a charter school fails then they are shut down. Have you ever seen a local school closed because they didn't meet AYP? The answer is no... they throw more money at the school every year to see if this will help. Still not sure what the problem is....
Kelly A
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September 14, 2012
You letter does not offer complete information and totally misleads the reader.(the very thing you are accusing CCA of) In fact CSUSA (the ones you refer to as CCA's owners/operators) did in fact pay 1.5 million to CCA at the end of the 2011/2012 school year. I believe any educated person would agree that was a risk that was not profitable for them last year. I think that alone totally negates your entire letter.

While I believe your point is to incite fear and panic by the statement "what if CCA closes mid year" and "dumps" 1,000 kids back into the system. If you are truly concerned about this maybe you should support the success of CCA rather than create reasons why it is not working.

CCA has a place in this community and is providing an education to almost 1,000 children with a waiting list. The competition of CCA has already brought good things to our educational community (The Academies).

Hey,hey,hey goodbye
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September 19, 2012
Mr. Konop presents what is needed - a rational, well-thought-out synopsis why we should vote down HB1162 in November. This bill has nothing to do with educating our youth but is instead a thinly-veiled political maneuver that will change our constitution so that public funds can be easily diverted to the pockets of private citizens, with little to no accountability or oversight.

If we didn't trust our Gold Dome and their affiliates to effectively manage the monies that would be collected through our TSPLOST referendum, why in the world would we trust them with the education of our youth?? You should be asking yourself that question if you've been duped into believing this amendment is a good idea. Our elected officials thump themselves on the chest and shout that they are for less government control and call themselves constitutionalists when it suits them but this is nothing more than a money and power grab by the state.
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