Charter school denied
by Kyle Dominy
kdominy@cherokeetribune.com
June 25, 2011 12:00 AM | 8111 views | 38 38 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sixes Elementary Assistant Principal Cindy Crews and Bascomb Elementary Special Education teacher Jackie Petty applaud the 4-3 decision by the Cherokee County School Board against the Cherokee Charter Academy on Friday evening at the Cherokee High School auditorium.<br>Cherokee Tribune/Todd Hull
Sixes Elementary Assistant Principal Cindy Crews and Bascomb Elementary Special Education teacher Jackie Petty applaud the 4-3 decision by the Cherokee County School Board against the Cherokee Charter Academy on Friday evening at the Cherokee High School auditorium.
Cherokee Tribune/Todd Hull
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In a 4-3 vote Friday night, the Cherokee County Board of Education denied the charter petition for the Cherokee Charter Academy.

An at-capacity crowd filled the 1,000-seat auditorium at Cherokee High School in Canton to hear the charter school's fate. The decision marks the third time the school has been denied in two years.

"I have looked and looked and looked, but this application brings nothing to the table that is unique," said Post 2 board member Mike Chapman during the board's discussion of the petition.

The Cherokee Charter Academy was previously granted a charter by the Georgia Charter School Commission.

However, the charter school, which was on tap to open in August, went into limbo this spring after the Georgia Supreme Court deemed the 2008 law that allowed for its charter unconstitutional.

The school then resubmitted its charter petition to the local Board of Education in May. However, Cherokee School District Superintendent Frank Petruzielo said the petition contained the same "deficiencies" that led to its denial in the past.

Cherokee Charter was denied in 2010 for what the board saw as a lack of planning for special education students, issues regarding oversight powers for the school board and transparency of the school's governing bodies.

At Friday night's meeting, Petruzielo also reiterated his argument that that new school would have a "significant negative" budgetary impact on the school system.

If approved, he said, the charter school would take more than $6 million from the district's coffers, which are already being hit by state cuts in education funding and a decreasing tax digest.

"We're not talking about small change," Petruzielo said. "There will have to be draconian decisions in the near future (if the charter petition is approved)."

Cherokee Charter's three supporters on the board said the new school would be a boost to Cherokee's already high performing schools.

"Innovations happen only when we take a risk," Post 3 board member Michael Geist said. "This is an opportunity to grow, learn and innovate."

The other supporting votes came from Post 7 member Kim Cochran and Post 6 member Rob Usher.

Geist, who has two children who were accepted to attend Cherokee Charter, came under fire.

Chapman said Geist's involvement with the school put him in a conflict of interest with the school system and that his vote would violate the board's code of ethics.

Geist countered, stating, "I would rather pull my children (from the school) than not vote because I think it is the best thing for the county."

The board's vote came after one hour of public comments.

The issue drew heated debate from supporters and opponents of the charter school.

"Charter schools meet a tremendous need in schools that are failing," said Susan Dreschel, whose two children graduated from Cherokee County schools. "The Cherokee County School District is not failing. There is no objective data for this proposal."

Charter school supporters said they were seeking more school choice.

"No one is going to look at my daughter and ask for her test scores," said Heather Blevins, whose daughter was slated to attend the school. "They are going to wonder if she had a well-rounded education."

Blevins was a member of Cherokee Charter Academy oversight board.

Other charter school supporters urged the board to think of the wishes of 2,600 students that applied to the school.

Post 4 board member Janet Read asked about the rest of Cherokee's student population.

"People say you need to listen to the 2,600 applicants," she said at the meeting. "Am I supposed to listen to the other 22,000 students?"

The vote was met with heavy cheers from the charter school's opponents.

But the school's supporters said the fight isn't over.

"I'm not happy," said Ted Handley of Woodstock. "But I don't think this is the end of trying to get a charter school in Cherokee County."
Comments
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parentsmakenosense
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July 01, 2011
Okay, excuses for not having the charter school I've heard so far.

We will lose teachers at the public school

We will have more students in the classrom at the public school

We will not have enough funds for the public school

Solutions by the people giving these excuses for the parents who want the charter school? Move or go to a private school.

If I go to a private school, the money I pay towards school taxes will be removed from the public school system and placed at the private school I select. If I move, not only will Cherokee County not get my tax money for the public school, but it won't have my tax money for the county either. So, how exactly are either solutions..solutions? Seems to me that some are not as smart as they think.

As for the excuses given, they also make no sense. Fewer students means fewer kids in the class. Less stress on the teachers. Seems to me this is simply about control and nothing else.
confusedincherokee
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July 01, 2011
I'm confused. I keep seeing the comments by those opposed to the charter school claiming how it will harm their students at the public schools. Did I miss something? Are the teachers leaving the public schools to go and teach at the charter school? I also keep seeing people say that if the charter school were to come about, that this would mean more kids to a classroom at the public schools. Again, did I miss something? In my math, if children leave the public schools, that would mean less children in the school, which to me would mean, less children in the classrooms? or am I mistaken? I then see the statements that if someone doesn't like the public school, then they can either move or go to a private school. I'm trying to figure out how this would be any different. After all, the money those students bring to the public school in the same way with the charter school would be moved to the private school that they choose. I'm not sure if people are aware of this? But when a child in Georgia goes to a public school, the money that family pays out to school tax is then moved to the tuition of the private school. So, if the children's parents who want the charter school..did in fact move, or send their child to a private school, the money results would be the same. I still don't understand how it equals out that we lose teacher's or get more students to a classroom. In either case, I don't see the difference between another private school coming about, or moving, or being able to transfer to another school in a different county (which is allowed in Ga) or a charter school ends up being any different between each other. What is the Cherokee Board afraid of? If these children do better than the public school, are they afraid they will have to actually change the old ways of teaching? I just don't see how all the fear mongering adds up. We will not lose teachers, nor have more kids to a class. And the money situation would be the same...which is actually not so good right now without the charter school by the way.
Three out
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June 30, 2011
Hey, Parent of 2! Go boast your children's accomplishments on "FAKEBOOK". In the mean time, touch up on your grammar. By the way, I totally agree with "Outta Here"!
Outta Here
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June 30, 2011
The 3 board members who voted for this charter school should be voted out! They are not concerned with the needs of the MAJORITY of students in this county. They are only concerned with fulfilling their own self-serving agenda.
HappyParentx2
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June 28, 2011
Same here! Both of my kids are AIM students and both perform well above their current grade levels. My oldest got perfect scores on more than one CRCT section and we can't be more happy with CCSD! Both have been offered amazing opportunities for learning. After looking closely at CCA's proposal, I could not see what they could offer to my children that CCSD was not already offering them.
Parent of 3
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June 28, 2011
Hey Parent of 2 in Cherokee....

I have three children...all three are in AIM classes....all three are in Duke TIP...all three have reading AND math levels well above their current grade levels...my HS student is in all AP classes...my MS student got a perfect score on three CRCT sections....AND THEY ARE ALL CCSD PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS! So it looks like public school did them no harm.
Please do!
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June 28, 2011
First of all, if you want to homeschool your child, PLEASE DO SO! Concerned Citizen, if you think that Cherokee County provides a subpar education, you are clueless. Please feel free to MOVE ON OUT as Mr. Chapman suggested. You will NEVER be happy with anything no matter what it is and I bet I could even get a bon voyage parade together as you leave!
ShockedCantonResiden
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June 27, 2011
While I completely understand parents feeling like they want a choice, I am seeing a side to parents that is not a pretty one. I work for a local private school in the county and we had several families apply their children to CCA. Some of their children got chosen in the lottery. When the decision from the Supreme Court came down, our administrator contacted the families and let them know our enrollment was filling up quickly and they might want to keep a back up plan in place just in case CCA didn't get approval from the BOE. One family did end up paying registration to hold their child a spot and they are now glad they did. The other three families decide to take the risk and not make any back up plans. Fast forward to this morning when we have had one family storm into our offices demanding that we "fix this" for them. They are demanding a spot back in our school and unfortunately spots in this grade level have been full for weeks now. The parent told us we "owed" them a spot and suggested we literally de-enroll a new student from the class to make room for her child because their child was more important that some "new kid" as they so nicely put it! How do we owe this parent anything? They keep telling us they want a choice of schools, but yet they expect us to revoke the choice of another family who rightfully registered and paid for a spot in our school just like everyone else? A second family has already called this morning to ask if we have a spot to give them and we told them sadly we do not. We offered to put them on a waiting list, however that was not good enough. The parent then asked if we had a spot in the next grade level, which we do, and is now demanding we allow the student to skip an entire grade so they can have the spot. Seriously?! The sense of entitlement is just mind boggling!
Teacher777
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June 26, 2011
To Cherokee Mom...

You are correct...CCSD Teachers are given a choice where to send their children. It is either the child's home school or the school/zone the teacher is working at. For example...I teach in the Woodstock Zone while I live in the Etowah zone. Schools start at varying times for busing purposes. My husband leaves for work much earlier than I do. My children attend school in the zone where I teach...I know they have gotten to school safely. It is the same feeling you get to enjoy. Are you really going to deny a teacher/mother this feeling because you dont get to pick schools???? Come now! If you dont like the school your child is attending move or home school or pay out of your own pocket for private school.

And as far as another parent wrote about teaching to the test....of course we do!!!!! I am not going to teach about apples if the test is about oranges! If you go to college to be a Doctor...are you going to take accounting classes?!?!?! I am pretty sure you would FAIL your Dr. test!
Concerned Citizen
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June 26, 2011
The apparent assumption of all of those opposed to choice is that Dr. P and the previous Board of Rubber Stampers have managed the tax dollars wisely, and that there is no BETTER way to run a school system. After seeing, the millions wasted on an unused bus depot in the far north end of the county (purchased from lifelong family friend of school attorney at a premium), wasted resources like older schools sitting vacant, the outrageous salaries of school officials and their bloated staffs, the fact that the CCSD operates at near legal capacity of allowable tax dollars, and the arrogance of Dr.P...I'd be very afraid of someone coming on the scene and proving that much more can be done for much less, too. The rallying teachers, used like minions, only secured their continued submission to a dishonest tyrant that holds their livlihoods in his hand. The unknowing parents insured they would continue to pay the highest tax rate allowable by law, to secure a substandard education for their children - and the other 22,000 children in the county. In the end - the children and our community lost to a demagogue today! It's a sad day in Cherokee County.
for the students
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June 26, 2011
The board members that voted for the charter are on their way out. It shows that they were voted for themselves and for their benefit being that no one had time to review the newest proposal handed to them 5 minutes before the meeting began. Mike Chapman made statements that are true and anyone with a brain would have agreed with him. You have options, many options and one of them is if you don't like any of those options then you have another option to relocate. I will be voting out the three that supported the charter - they voted because of personal gains and not based on what would be better for all our students. Our public schools, parapros and teachers rock!!!!
parentof2incherokee
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June 26, 2011
In response:

Yes, I could run the school system much better. Yes I would make a better teacher than the ones we have had recently, which is why my child will be homeschooled, proudly. As for the other 22,000 children, I am more than sure their parents when given the choice, would chose better for their children, rather than worry about mine. Would I feel bad for those children? yes, but is it my fault the public education sucks? NO. Neither is it my children's fault. As for moving if I don't like Cherokee County schools.....you are obviously very ignorant and oblivious to what we call "economic" crisis. You know the one...where houses aren't selling at the right prices, and transferring jobs depends on the boss? But of course the answer is...hey move! instead of us improving things. As for your tax dollars. Guess what? they're not being used the way they are supposed to be used for the schools anyway, so I'd much rather be able to chose for myself where my tax dollars are sent. I chose for them to either go to Charter, or my own pocket, because again...Cherokee County public schools do nothing for my child at all. If I could afford a private school, believe me, I would in a heartbeat. But, I'm not rich, so they will be homeschooled. Just some FYI on that, my 10 year old has an 11th grade reading level and scored above average on all her CRCTs. She was also received into DUKE TIP. So, obviously homeschooling has not harmed her :) Can you say the same for your public school?
parent2
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June 25, 2011
sounds like socialism to me....

IM Purowd
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June 25, 2011
Thank you to the wise school board members who voted against this ridiculous idea. Cherokee County has an excellent public school system and we do not need a charter school. If those 2,600 parents are so displeased with the system, there are plenty of choices (Kings Academy, Lyndon, Cherokee Christian to name a few).

Sen. Rogers, Board Members Geist and Champman, you will not destroy our public school system with your "death by a thousand cuts" strategy. Our teachers work hard and WE THE PARENTS will stand up with them to fight you every step of the way. Cherokee is a great place to live, to raise a family and to receive a high quality public education.
Another CCSD Parent
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June 25, 2011
Does it concern anyone else that three of our Board members (Geist, Cochran and Usher) voted to approve an amended petition for a charter school in our community that none of the three (nor other Board members or CCSD staff) had been given an opportunity to even read? Now, that is really a frightening reality -- I saw it myself, and I will definitely remember this in upcoming elections!!
Past Charter Parent
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June 25, 2011
I do believe that charter schools provide a good choice IF the school in-fact offers something different. In the case of Cherokee Charter Academy and Charter Schools USA-good call denying them. They are a for-profit real estate shell game just like Imagine Schools...another for profit out of Florida.

Too many districts deny charters for the wrong reasons and I heard some wrong reasoning here and there in this case but overall...good call.

For the record, I am pro charter schools. My children attended a Charter School and they excelled. If the right charter proposal came along I do hope that the citizens of the county don't look at it as a slap in the face.

I also hope that should the State ever decide to offer school vouchers that those of you here that so vehemently defended "your tax dollars" don't line up to send your kids to a real private school with my tax dollars.
Professionalism
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June 25, 2011
Does not the School Board serve at the pleasure of the voters of Cherokee County?

Does Mike Chapman and Petruzielo think their comments are professional?

Perhaps they should move to a county that enjoys that level of professionalism. Who elected them to the position of God?
CCSD Parent
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June 25, 2011
Mike Chapman was correct. If you do not like the school system you have a CHOICE-- MOVE!!! Or you can pull your wallet out and PAY for a private school education! To MOVING ON OUT- We will be voting out Mr. Usher, Mr. Geist,Kim Cochran and Chip Rogers! You have 2,600, we have over 66,000!

Dr. P and the rest of the Board- Well done!!!
Craig328
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June 25, 2011
It's mystifying to watch the supporters of this school explain their support (in the rare instances they do) as being in favor of "choice". Aside from that nebulous, "everything-always-works-better-in-an-open-market" excuse, what would this school have provided an already excelling county school system that would have outweighed the huge budgetary holes it would have caused? So far, nothing. NOT A SINGLE THING.

If you want a private school environment for your child and feel that strongly about it, there are private schools aplenty to choose from.

As for threatening to vote against the detractors next election...well, guess what: a lot more people will vote for those people BECAUSE the voted this idiocy down. I, for one, am not impressed at all with Geist, Usher and Cochran. They just gave me all the reason I need to vote for their opponent next time around if they couldn't discern just how bad an idea this was.
another thing..
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June 25, 2011
Mike Chapman needs to MOVE to another county. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed.
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