The school’s Local Governing Council met Wednesday to discuss the first few weeks of classes and plans moving forward for their second year in operation.
Present at the meeting were Local Governing Council members Heather Blevins, Lyn Carden and Larry Blase as well as Principal Vanessa Suarez. Calling in via teleconference were LGC member Byron Greene, Charter Schools USA officials Jamia Holland and Sandy Castro and Georgia Charter Education Foundation Executive Director Danny Brewington.
Council members absent from the meeting were Danny Dukes, Vince Baker and Jay Wright. Blevins said Wright, due to an employment opportunity in Blairsville, will be coming off the council and council members will need to seek out another community member to fill his role.
Principal Suarez said 998 students attended the school when it began the first day of class July 30, with the enrollment number at 995. Of the enrolled students, 768 recommitted from last year, 230 were new to the school (125 were in the addition of a kindergarten class) and 325 remain on the wait list.
Suarez said the wait list is no longer at 325, and now sits at 198.
“Our current enrollment is 975,” Suarez said, which is 20 students short of the goal enrollment. “Mostly because of middle school again … just kids not wanting to leave their middle schools.”
Since the beginning of school, 14 students withdrew with five moving out of the area, six citing transportation issues (the school does not provide buses) and three claiming the school was not a good fit.
Suarez said the school has hired 10 new staff members, with some joining the school because it now serves kindergarten through eighth grade. The remaining positions were available because some teachers moved out of the county and others were cited as not a good fit.
“We increased enrollment so we added teachers as well,” Suarez said.
Blevins said four teachers were hired specifically for middle school grades.
A new feature for the school this year is a schoolwide calendar, which will be distributed to all students, parents and teachers and features student artwork.
“Last year starting so late, we were kind of adding events as we went,” Suarez said. “We thought for the benefit of the parents, teachers and students we would just have a calendar for all events for the year and stick to it as closely as possible.”
The financial report was not prepared for review at Wednesday’s meeting. Blevins said because in the shift in date of the meeting, there was miscommunication between the council and the CSUSA financial department.
The council unanimously voted to table the financial report.
“We will have two sets of finances to review next month,” Blevins said.
The next meeting will be held Sept. 26 at 10 a.m. at the school. Blevins said the board has decided to stay with the 10 a.m. time on the fourth Wednesday of each month.
The board also voted to table school policy approvals until the next meeting.
Board members also reviewed parent and staff survey results, which were taken at the end of the 2011-12 school year. The information included an overview of the results compared with the CSUSA network and results will be integrated into the school’s strategic plan and the school improvement plan as it is evaluated and implemented.
From the averages listed on the survey, parents were most satisfied with parent and community involvement and the safe and orderly environment provided at CCA. The areas parents reported the least satisfaction were food services and uniforms.
“All in all, we seem to be headed in the right direction, according to what our parents feel,” Suarez said.
In overall satisfaction, 95 percent of parents were pleased with the school in each area addressed.
While about 55 percent of parents participated in the mid-year survey, only about 41 percent participated in the June survey.
Blevins said food service is an issue she often discusses with parents, who she has asked to contact her directly about their concerns. In the survey, only 55 percent of parents were satisfied with food service, as compared to 62 percent in November.
“I think this is something that we need to pay attention to as we go through further surveys so we can have some discussion as to how we can improve those numbers,” Blevins said.
In the teacher surveys, 52 of 65 staff members, or 80 percent, completed the survey. All survey areas saw a decrease in satisfaction among teachers from the November survey compared to the May survey.
The biggest decrease was seen in how staff viewed leadership of the school, with only 59 percent satisfied with leadership compared to 94 percent in November.
In workforce engagement, teachers reported being happy with co-worker commitment to quality work and the mission of CCA but reported dissatisfaction with not having enough materials and equipment to perform their jobs and lack of recognition and praise.
Blevins said there were “issues and concerns” in the last half of the year and has asked CSUSA to run another survey to compare to and look to have it by the next board meeting. She did not address any of those specific concerns.
“The numbers that we see are not reflective of what we see as where Vanessa (Suarez) is in the leadership of the school,” Blevins said.
Greene said there is a good atmosphere at the school and the low numbers surprised him.