Local delegation weighs in on charter academy ruling
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
June 04, 2011 12:00 AM | 4493 views | 5 5 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON - Cherokee County's legislative delegation is encouraging the Cherokee school board to consider approving a petition to open a charter school.

Approval at the local level is the quickest way to ensure the Cherokee Charter Academy opens its doors by August, said Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock).

The academy and other charter schools are in danger of not opening since the Georgia Supreme Court last month ruled the Georgia Charter Schools Commission unconstitutional.

Since the ruling, charter school advocates at the state and local level have had to scramble and resubmit petitions to local boards of education that initially denied their request.

A Senate subcommittee on Friday met to discuss options available at the state level.

Rogers said the committee discussed what could be done to prevent charter schools already opened and those that were approved by commission from having to close their doors.

Rogers said the state Board of Education could consider designating those schools as special state charter schools.

The downside of that designation means those schools would only be entitled to receive their state share of funding and not the local share, which accounts for about half of revenue for charter schools.

Most charter schools, he added, cannot survive solely on state funding, which is why Rogers said state legislators are encouraging local boards to approve petitions.

"We are encouraging the local boards to take these successful schools and bring them into the mix," he said.

Cherokee Charter Academy has resubmitted its petition to open a kindergarten through eighth-grade school to the Cherokee school board.

The school board is scheduled to hold a meeting at 7:30 p.m. June 30 to consider the petition.

The Cherokee school board in 2009 and in 2010 denied petitions from the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation, which submitted the petitions on behalf of Charter Schools USA, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based company.

The legislators could also consider a constitutional amendment on whether the state could create charter schools, something all of delegation members indicated they would support if the matter came to that.

Voters would have to approve the amendment.

A resolution to consider a constitutional amendment could be considered by the legislature during its special session in August, but Rogers noted Gov. Nathan Deal would have to specify that in his call for an August special session.

Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Hickory Flat) said he hopes legislators can convince the governor to consider such a proposal.

If it's not considered during the special session, the legislature would have to wait until next year's session to begin the process.

Each of Cherokee's delegation members also expressed their displeasure with the state Supreme Court's ruling.

Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) said the ruling was an example of the court "legislating from the bench."

Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming), who said the decision was a "poor choice," said many parents are just trying to exercise their right to control their children's education and the ruling was just another example of "big government" dictating to the people.

Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming) said the approach of education can no longer be a "cookie cutter approach," and charter schools are another way to keep children interested in school and "on the right path in society."

Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs), who called the ruling a "sad day for education in Georgia," added he has been encouraged by the Cherokee school board's consideration of the petition.

"There's a lot of community support and I think they do recognize that," he said of the local school board.

Whatever the solution may be, Rogers said he wants the public to know the legislature is serious about finding a legal way in which charter schools can co-exist with traditional public schools.

"We're all committed to helping solve this problem," he said.
Comments
(5)
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Anti-Cherokee Teachr
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June 15, 2011
You hit the nail right on the head 2011 Etowah Graduate...it is all about the personal agenda of Dr. P and the public school machine vs. what is best for individual children. Competition is good, no one school model is perfect for everyone, and choice is the only answer. This is America. Power to the People !!! We will win this fight! Radcliff and Puckett were ousted in last year's election for school board because of their longstanding anti-school choice stance. The rest of this year's board is being closely watched...no Cherokee Charter Academy and any board member who voted against it will be ousted for sure in next election.
thankful parent
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June 06, 2011
I thank you from the bottom of my heart rep. Sean Jerguson!! I thank you all who are in this fight for us!! All we want is the chance for this to work for our children!!

Students for Change
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June 05, 2011
Wow, a teacher, who is probably Dr. P. wants this to fail so 2000 more kids can be trapped into the Cherokee County School system...Job Security right?

Give the kids a chance to learn the way that is best for them. Not all schools are the best schools for every child. Students learn differently. Let them have a choice.

Competition is good.

2011 Etowah Graduate
Cherokee Teacher
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June 04, 2011
Instead of pressuring board of ed members, shouldn't our legislators be working on more important issues like bringing industry to Georgia? A Florida corporation that wants to open a charter and spend less on our kids so they can make money isn't the kind of industry we need.
PolecatMtn
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June 04, 2011
I salute the delegation for coming on line in this fight for parental rights. Look, we all want our public school systems to succeed. We just want the chance to make other choices for our children's and grand children's education, that's it.
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