Charter School officials said this week that a revised application is in the works to be submitted to the Cherokee school board.
“We are working with the school board to address any problems in the application,” said Lyn Carden, a board member of the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation, which oversees the Cherokee Charter Academy. “We are anxious to hear from them.”
Cherokee Charter Academy was granted a charter by the Georgia Charter School Commission, a state board created by a controversial 2008 law that allowed the state to charter public schools.
The Georgia Supreme Court deemed that law unconstitutional in a ruling last week.
But gaining approval from the local board could be an uphill battle for the school. The school’s charter application was denied twice by the local school board in 2010.
“This is obviously an emotionally charged issue,” Post 2 Cherokee School Board member Mike Chapman said. “We do have a way to help them solve the problem, but the problem lies with them putting forth a good application.”
Several factors led to the board denying the application last year.
The school board cited unclear facility funding, a lack of planning for special needs students and a lack of county oversight to the school’s budgeting process as reasons for the two-time denial.
“We are not asking for anything beyond the scope of what we’re required to do,” Chapman said. “We have to do our due diligence to make sure they will be successful. We are accountable to the taxpayers.”
As long as all school board concerns are addressed, Chapman said he would have no problems approving the school.
The Supreme Court decision putting Cherokee Charter Academy’s future in limbo came just days after the school held the lottery to select the more than 900 students to make up its inaugural class.
The school will be housed in a campus on Sixes Road in Canton.
Carden said she hoped the application would be submitted soon, giving the board enough time to review it before their next meeting June 16.
Chapman said the board is also considering a special called meeting to address the issue.
In a letter to the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation Monday, Cherokee school officials said they would begin reviewing the renewed application as soon as it was submitted.
“ . . .as soon as the School District receives a revised local petition from Cherokee Charter Academy which addresses previously stated deficiencies, the Board attorney and Superintendent will begin their legal analysis and staff review,” the letter stated.
The letter also requested a list of students slated to enroll in the school, as well as projected enrollment for the coming years.
Members of the Georgia Senate local delegation are seeking ways to help the 17 charter schools across the state affected by the court decision.
“The best option for (Cherokee Charter Academy) is to work with the local school board to address any issues they have, and so far we’ve received a positive response,” Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R–Woodstock) said. “If that were not the case, we are exploring options on the state level.”
Rogers is a member of a special Senate sub-committee organized to address the charter school issue.
The group, comprised of five senators from across the state, is scheduled to have its first meeting next week.