Two factors — lower than expected enrollment and lack of available funding — are contributing to the shortfall, according to charter officials.
The concerns come at a time when a constitutional amendment to allow the state to create charter schools is making its way through the state Legislature.
Governance Council members George Lopos, Heather Blevins and Larry Blase held the monthly meeting at the local charter academy to get an update on where the school stands financially. Members of the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation Board of Directors and Charter Schools USA, a professional education management organization, attended the meeting in person or via teleconference call. Local board members Quentin Thomas and Vince Baker were absent.
Governing board member Lyn Carden and Charter Schools USA representative Sandy Castro attended the meeting, while Charter Schools USA representatives Judith Brown and Hillary Daigle as well as governing board member Danny Dukes were on the phone via teleconference.
Daigle pointed out the school’s revenue is short of projections by about $1.3 million.
“There’s two factors there — lower enrollment and the second factor being actual funding itself and how it’s coming in,” Daigle said.
In the financial summary for fiscal year 2012, the school budgeted for 995 students, but the school anticipates only having 822 students enrolled. Right now 825 students are enrolled at the charter school.
The average Quality Basic Education revenue per student from the state is budgeted at $5,781, but the summary forecasts receiving $6,667 per student. The financial summary also forecasts a net school deficit of $77,023 for the fiscal year.
Brown presented the budget variances and said that she expected total revenue for the year at $388,000 less than budgeted.
Charter Principal Vanessa Suarez said total school enrollment, determined in January, is at 825 students with 95 percent in attendance. Twenty-two students withdrew from the school in January and there was one student suspended, she said.
“Since this is our first year, we will not receive funding for ESOL, special education and Title I students until mid-year,” Suarez said.
The school has 74 employees, Suarez said.
Suarez said almost all students have recommitted to attend the school in the fall but she had not confirmed the exact number. She said 17 have officially enrolled for the next school year and there are 85 students on the waitlist.
Suarez said 193 students have applied for the inaugural kindergarten class this fall with 120 slots available. There are 37 applicants for first grade but the school is over capacity for the grade level.
There will not be any more parent information sessions during this school year because there are already more applicants than slots available, Suarez said.
Both Thomas and council member George Lopos’ terms ended effective Wednesday, and both will not continue on with the board.
Council Member Heather Blevins said the two positions should be filled by local business professionals and the board will seek out interested parties and report back at the next meeting held March 28.
Blevins also commended Cherokee Charter Academy parents for their strong support of House Bill 1162, which would provide the state the ability to authorize charter schools.
The board also discussed benchmark data from student testing, which was added to the agenda. For reading and math categories, all grades included maintained above 80 percent in benchmark requirements, they reported.
Students will take the CRCT test in April and the statewide fifth-grade writing test, Suarez said.
The board also discussed a parent survey taken about 90 days into the school year. About 55 percent of all parents with enrolled children responded and 95 percent of responders said they were satisfied with the school, they said.