Parent raises question of charter funds
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
September 09, 2012 02:10 AM | 4893 views | 7 7 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The charter school debate was brought up once again during the public input portion of Thursday night’s Cherokee Board of Education meeting.

John Konop, parent of a student at Freedom Middle School, expressed concern about a conversation with School Board member Michael Geist about Cherokee Charter Academy and the school’s funding as a public charter school.

Addressing the board, he said his concern was that if CCA decided to close mid-year and send students back to district schools, there would be no penalty. Additionally, he said he was concerned about whether the board supports charter schools.

“(Geist) told me … he said this is the identical way, in his terms, the identical way that you deal with all vendors,” Konop said.

In an interview Friday, Konop said: “This is a very simple issue to me, and it comes down to this: if a private company gets seed money to start a business from taxpayers and don’t have to pay back and then get contract…It’s designed as if that school, in middle of year, sends back 1,000 kids, there’s no penalty.”

Geist did not address Konop at the meeting, but Chapman advised Konop the board voted at its April 20 meeting against House Resolution 1162, the state constitutional amendment that would enable a state-level, appointed charter school commission to create and fund charter schools.

Geist said in an interview Friday that the brief conversation the speaker was referring to was held at a Cherokee County Republican Party meeting and said he is interested in better understanding Konop’s position on the matter. Geist said Konop seemed to be critical that CCA uses a private management company.

“As far as the risk to taxpayers concern, my impression to him was that in terms of understanding how the state pays money to CCA and how money goes to (Charter Schools USA, the charter school’s management company) is handled the same way with the same level of control that they hand out money to school district over the state,” Geist said.

“It’s tough sometimes to know where questions like that are coming from,” Geist said. “I don’t know that I clearly understand what he was trying to say. I do want to take time to address what (his) actual concern is.”

Also during public input, Kathy Thompson, a representative for Cherokee P.A.N.T.S., or People Advocating the Need for Transparent Funding in Schools, came out in support of the board’s April 20 resolution opposing HR 1162.

“Cherokee P.A.N.T.S. is not opposed to charter schools, school choice or school options,” Thompson said. “We’re opposed to bigger state government and more appointed bureaucrats.”

Thompson cited a news story from the Tribune’s Thursday edition that said Gov. Nathan Deal has given $19 million in grants to improve charter school performance.

The grant gives nine Georgia programs and schools monies from federal Race To The Top funds, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Three of the nine included in the release are charter schools or directed toward charter-related efforts.

“This is an example of why we should vote ‘No’ on 1162,” Thompson said. “When our state legislators are that far removed from our local issues and problems, overcrowded classrooms and furlough days, then how could we entrust them with looking out for our Georgia educational interests? $19 million could have afforded a minimum of 287 teachers.”

In other business, after the executive session, the board returned and unanimously voted to sell the former Ball Ground Elementary School to the city of Ball Ground.

According to the real estate sales contract and intergovernmental agreement, the purchase price of the property is set at $644,495. The city has paid $35,000 to the district so far and will accept the property as-is upon closing.

Comments
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inaccurate
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September 11, 2012
I've grown so tired of people saying most of the kids at CCA come from the Sixes & Towne Lake areas. Some of the children live in the Nasty (oops...I mean Hasty) district. Enough with the generalizations!
School5
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September 11, 2012
Before you take unnecessary jabs at Cherokee high school and their "failing," please take the time to understand how those scores are calculated. Cherokee pulls way ahead of other county systems in many ways (special education/vocational training to name two), but is chastised under the same parameters as a school like Etowah. Any responsible citizen of Cherokee county should understand the differences in the two schools and the clientele.
skeeter22
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September 10, 2012
Konop has a history of taking statements out of context. If he applied the same stringent rules to government schools as he attempts to do to the charter school, the charter school would be the only school left standing in Cherokee County.
Same rhetoric
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September 10, 2012
Your public schools are already under stringent rules and red tape provided by your legislators that claim to be constitutional conservatives, yet want to amend the constitution to create more government.
John konop
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September 11, 2012
Please point out what I took out of context? This was a simple transaction. The Charter school got about 1 million dollars upfront for putting about 1 years of profits paid by tax payers. They in return got a no penality or obligation contract that pays the private company about 1 million dollars a year.

Do you really think this is how we should fund private companies doing work for the government?

Irronic you take a shot at me, and we have no idea if you are even part of the school........
JAJB
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September 09, 2012
CCSD uses a private management company as well. Who is this guy wanting to be punished CCA or the parents and students of CCA? I don't believe people think about the student when making their argument and the people on th BOE against charter schools don't have children attending CCSD schools anymore and have no idea how the students needs are not being met. I love that CCSD is now opening school choice schools but do not believe this would have happened if not for the charter school. Mr. Konop ask Dr P about how many times Cherokee HS has failed and yet stays open and why he needs a private driver when there is such a shortage of funds.
Same rhetoric
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September 10, 2012
I believe the question was to protect the current CCSD students from further damage, as in, if CSUSA pulls out (without any penalty) the CCA students will then flood CCSD schools without CCSD receiving any further funding. Mr. Konop has a legit reason to be worried with his child at Freedom MS since many CCA students would enter the classes at that school causing class size to be even more inflated.

If you were really worried about CCA's survival, you would have the school look into hiring a not-for-profit managing company that doesn't walk away with $1M/year profit (and no liability), maybe more since they are getting more money now. You'd think they would invest more money into paying for quality teachers and for classroom investments.

Do you really want to compare the compensation of Dr. P with that of Mr. Hege?
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