Cherokee: Will charter school open? And $324,608 for e-mails related to school?

I wrote a series a few years ago about local governments in Georgia frustrating citizens who were attempting to use the state Open Records Act to obtain public documents.

One way was to impose outlandish charges for the records, and I have seen some hefty bills. Another way was to force citizens to wait months for the documents. I talked to many people around the state who had these obstacles put in their path.

But $324,608 and a 463-day wait shocks even me.

That is what Cherokee schools told an attorney he would have to pay for a request for e-mails and other documents related to the Cherokee Academy Charter School, one of 16 charters left in limbo by the May 16 state Supreme Court ruling.

The school wants to open this fall, and is before the school board tonight.

Now, Mike Klein of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is reporting that Attorney General Sam Olens said today that his office will open an investigation into how the Cherokee County School District’s open records response.

My AJC colleague Jim Galloway has more on this mess at Political Insider

According to the AJC news story on the school’s hearing tonight:

Cherokee schools Superintendent Frank Petruzielo has warned that approving the application for Cherokee Charter Academy will cost taxpayers and teachers money. To raise $3.4 million for a school of 500, he said, the school board would have to consider either laying off 55 teachers, increasing furlough days, eliminating step raises, hiking taxes or siphoning reserves.

With 995 kids, Cherokee Charter’s proposed enrollment, the school would have an even larger impact, he said. So instead the superintendent will present Friday a staff rewrite of the academy’s community-inspired proposal that keeps its enrollment at 500 and makes the school assume more financial responsibility. The school board will take up the charter school issue at a meeting set for 6 p.m. Friday at the Cherokee High School auditorium at 930 Marietta Highway in Canton.

The rewrite clearly compels the school’s governing board to assume control of hiring, debt and contracting services as well as pay fees for special education services supplied by the Cherokee school system.

I didn’t want the board in a position of not being able to vote for a responsible charter school petition that addresses all of the deficiencies that we have continually pointed out,” Petruzielo said.”If we as a board are going to put our name on a school, it needs to meet our standards,” said Janet Read, a Cherokee school board member who added that many people are calling her voicing concerns about the school.

“I’m trying to consider not only the 995 students in the Cherokee Charter Academy, but the over 38,000 already enrolled in our traditional public schools. This would have a financial impact on our budget,’’ she said.

Some members of the foundation proposing the academy take issue with the rewrite.

“What the superintendent has done has nothing to do with our petition,” said  Danny Dukes, a charter school board member. “We have offered time and time again to sit down and have a collaborative run-through of our entire petition and to consider constructive criticism. They have refused to do so.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

41 comments Add your comment

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

June 24th, 2011
2:55 pm

Thank you, AG Olens.

ChristieS.

June 24th, 2011
3:37 pm

Hmph.. This doesn’t surprise me as the culture in the central office reflects that of its leader. Frank Petruzielo is a gas-bag. He was the superintendent who managed to tick off everyone (parents, teachers, school board, businesses, county and state government) on his way to thrashing Broward County schools. Putz.

catlady

June 24th, 2011
3:37 pm

There are other systems the AG could look into for high costs, slow response, and omitting documents. I will suggest those folks get in touch with the AG, too.

Re what is going on in Cherokee County, and other places: Now perhaps folks will understand WHY there needs to be an outlet besides the local school board. Unless systems see it to their benefit (ie, unwanted students transfer to the charter school) systems won’t approve a charter school application.

oldtimer

June 24th, 2011
4:22 pm

GA needs some opening up…Good Luck to the AG

James

June 24th, 2011
4:36 pm

Public Schools = Government. Government has no desire to reform or progress, merely to grow and consume more money. Public Schools will always tell you they will improve if you will just give them more money. And we fall for it year after year after year…..

Tony

June 24th, 2011
5:40 pm

http://www.cowetaschools.org/2011/2011_6_24_charter.htm

Look at Coweta’s analysis to the charter application they denied. The same companies were supporting this application.

To Danny Dukes

June 24th, 2011
6:00 pm

I hear you. School Districts have long forgotten what a real negotiation looks like. Local Control = Out of Control.

“What the superintendent has done has nothing to do with our petition,” said Danny Dukes, a charter school board member. “We have offered time and time again to sit down and have a collaborative run-through of our entire petition and to consider constructive criticism. They have refused to do so.”

off track

June 24th, 2011
6:15 pm

Tony, great job posting some facts instead of cute one-liners. Two different analsis indicate that this petition offers nothing different to improve student achievement, funnels Cherokee tax dollars to the Florida corporation behind the school, costs more than what the system has to spend for the same services, and has some real federal compliance issues. Hmmm… might not be a good idea. School choice between two bad schools is not a choice. Gotta love captialism – Buyer Beware and read the fine print. Doesn’t look like the parents did their research before they hired this company or enrolled their kids. Curious to see what kind of leadership Cherokee will provide in this situation.

d

June 24th, 2011
7:12 pm

@James, how do you reason that we’re throwing money at our public schools? Our previous governor cut $3 Billion in QBE funding during his 8 years in office. Hardly “throwing money” at the schools.

catlady

June 24th, 2011
7:57 pm

Could Cherokee County Schools and the BOE look any more stupid and vindictive than this?

Larry Major

June 24th, 2011
8:01 pm

$324,608 sounds like a pretty good deal.

The Charter Schools Commission cost Gwinnett taxpayers more than that – and we didn’t get free copy service.

JAT

June 24th, 2011
9:37 pm

Thank you Dr. P and Board for putting the best interests of the majority of students in Cherokee County above those few who are unhappy. We greatly appreciate your leadership and commitment to our public schools.

DemocracyChamp

June 24th, 2011
9:44 pm

Well, it didn’t pass and board member Mike Chapman gets my vote for most ridiculous comment of the night: “If you feel like the Cherokee County school system isn’t meeting your needs you have the option to move.” Are you kidding me? Many have the privilege to move and good for them, but most don’t have that option. Regardless of his feelings over CCA, its definitely not acceptable for an elected official to make comments like this. No matter where you live, your school system has the obligation to meet your child’s needs to the best of their ability. This quote was from http://www.ajc.com/news/fayette/cherokee-board-rejects-charter-987140.html?cxtype=rss_cherokee

Kah

June 24th, 2011
11:24 pm

Real choice is having vouchers for all students. This would give the parents options and control over their child’s education. Other options would be the cyber schools and or homeschooling. The school boards in Georgia are being put on notice…change is coming where the money will follow the child.

Publicola

June 25th, 2011
12:42 am

@Larry Major

Let’s see, Ivy Preparatory Academy took students who were not doing very well in their current school and helped them. The CRCT scores show just how good a job Ivy Prep is doing. And they did it at a per student cost less than what GCPS does it for.

Exactly how is this a bad deal?

GCPS didn’t have to spend million suing but they did and I suspect if Ivy gets funding from the State GCPS will sue yet again to try to force them to shut their doors.

Publicola

June 25th, 2011
12:46 am

Cherokee: Arrogant, ridiculous response to an open records request. Then votes down the charter request and tells parents who don’t like it to move.

Gwinnett: Offers Ivy Preparatory Academy a per student dollar amount far less than the average Gwinnett student and would not even commit to that number.

But they are all say they support charter schools. Sure they do.

Larry Major

June 25th, 2011
5:47 am

Publicola – it was a bad deal because you took state funding away from my daughter and over 150,000 kids like her. Our kids got less state funding than all other public school students in Georgia. Ivy Prep got significantly MORE funding than their students earned. Try reading court records to learn what really happened.

While you’re reading, go to the DOE web page and educate yourself about public school funding. You should have been able to do some simple arithmetic and know the funding number in the AJC article was the correct amount of funding these kids would get if they attended any public school in the state – and a bunch of you obviously don’t know enough to do that.

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

June 25th, 2011
7:57 am

Right – Just go to the DOE site and read up a bit on funding. Not hard at all…

I’ve read theoretical Physics papers that were MUCH easier to follow!!

John Konop

June 25th, 2011
9:11 am

I do think Charter schools can serve a great need for school districts. Yet the following should be considered before jumping in:

1) Since the charter school uses tax payer money no school should be allowed to spend a dime unless it has a proper bond or form of security in case it goes out of business. Otherwise the school could spend tax payers’ money and than dump the kids back into the system forcing us to pay twice.

2) The school should only get as Buzz pointed the true rate of revenue school get taking into consideration the cost of special needs, ESL………..

3) The schools would best serve a community if it was designed to take on a very focused group of kids enhancing special needs ie math/science school, performing arts, vocational, special education…………………

4) The school should have to submit a high level plan with tough audits to make sure they are meeting high standards to make sure this is not just way to make money off tax payers.

I realize many on both sides will not agree with my opinions like on many issues. But in any deal if both sides do not walk away thinking they did not get what they fully wanted, yet can live with deal, it is usually a very good compromise.

CharterStarter, Too

June 25th, 2011
9:31 am

Larry Major – I respectfully disagree. Again. I keep trying to get you to logic out WHY a school district should keep funds for students they don’t serve. Did anyone mention that this school district would have retained 3% of the school’s revenue for OVERSIGHT? No one mentioned that…did they? The district said that “55 teachers would be laid off” (which is a bunch of stuff and nonsense.) But let’s just assume the district is being forthcoming…did they mention the huge number of teachers who applied to work at Cherokee Charter Academy? Um, no, they did not. You see, the problem here is that the full truth about things is never laid on the table for the public to consider.

Re: this open records nonsense. One of Cherokee County’s “beefs” with CCUSA was transparency (the school didn’t want to give up enrolled students’ personal info….something one of the parents last night said she was grateful for) And what do we have here? A complete and total lack of transparency. What reasonable human beging could possibly believe it would take $300k+ and over a year to pull 3 days worth of emails? The system’s actions show an absolute lack of respect for operating in the sunshine and accountability to their stakeholders. Whether Cherokee families agree with the charter school or not, this should be a red flag to them about the integrity of this system. The system that’s handling their tax dollars and their children’s education.

Speaking of stakeholders, let me address their decision. What was troubling (scary) was how very uninformed some of the members of the school board were. School board members sat up there and made claim after claim about charter schools in general (applying it to the decision about Cherokee) that were patently false and contrary to the law. I believe making uninformed decisions is a violation of their fiduciary duty of care.

One of the board members stated that there were 22,000 eligible students who could attend the charter school. 2600 of them applied – that’s 12%. The school district kept going on and on about their wonderful schools. And if you look at the aggregate, the scores ARE very good for the district. But you know what, education is not about schooling the masses and being satisfied with the average – within that average are kids falling through the cracks whose needs are not being met. If the school board only listens to the majority, these kids will NEVER be helped. In this particular case, 12% of the board’s constituency was saying, “Hey, WE are at the other end of the spectrum and MY child’s needs are not being met.”

As a business owner, if more than 10% of my customers were unhappy or seeking a different product, I’d be making darn sure I paid attention. The school board saw a huge overturn at their last election because they didn’t listen. I daresay there will be greater fervor to remove those still not listening. Somebody get these folks a giant Q-Tip!

CharterStarter, Too

June 25th, 2011
9:38 am

John Konop, using your logic, then it stands to reason that school districts should not be paid by the state or local taxpayers for the students they serve until and unless those children meet or exceed state standards….otherwise, parents will be forced to pay for tutors, go to Ombudsman, or seek a private school option….or go charter, and thereby forcing the tax payers to pay twice.

Looking at the state’s averages with student achievement, the districts would be out of of business following your logic.

Or are you saying that charters should be held fiscally and academically accountable (and are) but districts can have all the dollars they want and need and still be allowed to run bloated bureaucracies with poor achievement? Sheesh.

John Konop

June 25th, 2011
10:30 am

Charter Starter,

……..John Konop, using your logic, then it stands to reason that school districts should not be paid by the state or local taxpayers for the students they serve until and unless those children meet or exceed state standards….otherwise, parents will be forced to pay for tutors, go to Ombudsman, or seek a private school option….or go charter, and thereby forcing the tax payers to pay twice…..

I think you are confused about the issue. If a charter school went out of business they would have spent the dollars and now the kids would show up at public schools with the money already spent. I am confused why any tax payer would not want strict fiscal requirements on charter schools to make sure the above does not happen.

Having all tax payers take risk of the viability of a charter school is rather irrational. Please help me understand why you think a charter school should not be required to have the proper fiscal security in place before taking money from the public when tax payers are at risk if they go out of business?

Lee

June 25th, 2011
11:12 am

You can read the open records document request here: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B_KEK8-LWmzhNjk3NWM5OTUtYzZiZC00Y2JhLWFlN2EtNDRmYzdiYjVlZDRk&hl=en_US

Basically, they wanted emails, memos, and other documentation related to the charter dated from May 16, 2011 to the present date, which was June 20, 2011.

That’s it. One month of emails between 15-20 people and any other internal memos or documentation related to the subject.

Cherokee’s response of $324,000 for 6700 manhours of work over 463 days was one big f-you to the open records requestor.

CharterStarter, Too

June 25th, 2011
12:05 pm

John Konop, I am not confused at all. Let me clariify a couple of things:

I ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCABLY believe a charter school should be held to high academic and fiscal standards. Prior to authorization, the authorizer must ensure that the budget is a sustainable one, there are fiscal controls in place, and there is an academic plan in place that has shown success. Once the school is opened, the authorizer must provide adequate oversight to ensure these things are implemented and sustained.

In the case of Cherokee, the Georgia Charter Schools Commission did a lot of work to review the application, look at past academic and financial data, and interview the groups. They decided to authorize because the school demonstrated innovations and a strong fiscal and academic track record in a state that has MUCH higher standards than Georgia’s.

But even if you don’t agree with their decision alone, the STATE DEPARTMENT staff also reviewed them and recommended upholding the Commission’s decision and the STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION concurred with this recommendation.

Qualitative decisions in authorization are often made by local boards (i.e., do we LIKE the academic plan…do we feel it’s “innovative” in OUR eyes, is that how WE would budget, etc.). And when this happens, charters don’t have a chance at authorization (which is why the Commission was established in the first place). This district made a qualitative decision based on their own values. And they discounted the voice of 12% of their constituency and the recommendation of the whole State Board of Education. That’s politics and to a point, self dealing if you ask me.

Now, once a school gets authorized, they have to perform. And if they don’t, they are shut down. And yes, students generally go back to the local school district….but keep in mind, they probably left because the parnents were dissatisfied and needs were not being met in the district, so they are just going back to where they were. If they had never left, they would have been in a district school anyway and the district would have had to educate them. So I don’t see you point here. Although, I must say, in a scenario like this, both the district AND the charter would have failed the child.

I think you are missing the point that I was making though, and that is that the local school districts have zero accountability. Parents can’t do one thing if their schools or their child’s teacher fails them other than MOVE or go pay someone else to do what the local district should have and could have done. Which means more taxpayer dollars spent unnecessarily.

A charter school, if properly authorized and proper oversight measures are in place, has a great chance of progressing students – they have a consequence if they don’t, unlike the district. This is a win-win for parents AND tax payers.

One last thing – I by no means believe that every child needs to be educated in a charter school. There are many district schools where students are doing great and parents are happy. Charters are an OPTION for those who need and desire it. The question is – who defines when it’s needed. I believe a parent should be able to make that decision about their child.

John Konop

June 25th, 2011
12:20 pm

I am not against charter schools. I firmly believe that the schools should be required to put up a security bond to make sure the kids make it through each colander year before a dime of tax payers money is used by the school.

Agree and if not why?

Second if you are not happy with the board decision you can vote them out in a local election. I am not a big fan of the federal and state government heavy handed approach like math 123, No Child Left Behind………Our system does not guarantee results but it does guarantee the right for voters to make changes at the ballot box. And the more you move that right away from the local community the more we all have fewer rights.

Agree and if not why?

CharterStarter, Too

June 25th, 2011
1:16 pm

John, Loving the discussion!

Ok, as for the security bond…just to be clear…charter schools are not some random entity. They are public schools, just like the district schools are, that have to comply with federal regulations, non-profit requirements, and some applicable state laws as well. School districts are not required to put up any sort of bond for the right to educate kids and to be funded (well, I suppose they pay into the 5 mill share…as do the charter schools), but that’s another matter. I know what you’re saying, but it’s irrelevant if there is a rigorous but fair authorization process for the charters.

You commented that your school system doesn’t guarantee results…which is exactly the point. But in the charter world, we are accustomed to guaranteeing results – we are bound to meet our charter objectives (which are both academic and operational and MUST raise student achievement). How can that possibly be bad? Let’s put it in these terms…if I have money to invest, do I invest it in something that does not guarantee a return on investment or one that does? I don’t know about you, but common sense would say to invest where there is a guarantee on a return. How is this situation any different?

You speak of government heavy handed approaches. This is not always federally driven – local school districts do this all the time. I know when I was teaching in my local district, we were mandated to teach a program called Calendar Math. As a teacher (and a parent), I did not feel it was the best or only method for instructing in math. Albeit for a hundred other reasons as well, I made a CHOICE to start a school that aligned with my educational philosophy. There were many parents and teachers who shared this philosophy, and these enrolled and came to work for us and have excelled and been very satisfied. Many others chose not to and happily stayed in the district, which I both respect and support. It’s a win-win (and I don’t have to teacher Calendar Math anymore – LOL).

Many of the issues driving parents to charter schools are systemic issues…things that may work for some but not all, and the charter provides an option that does not impose a systemic change for all, but allows an outlet for a slice of the population that needs an alternative. Practically speaking, this is sort of a self-controlling process, since there are a number of students that must be interested in the charter for it to even sustain.

The charter schools are not looking to upset the apple cart for parents/teachers who are happy with the system where they learn/teach…no one is forcing a student to enroll or a teacher to apply for employment. It’s a CHOICE, and one I believe is the right of every citizen to make.

John Konop

June 25th, 2011
1:51 pm

……Let’s put it in these terms…if I have money to invest, do I invest it in something that does not guarantee a return on investment or one that does? I don’t know about you, but common sense would say to invest where there is a guarantee on a return. How is this situation any different?……

As a tax payer you are using my money to expand a public product which I could end up paying twice for if it goes out of business. It is not like the current system has a capacity issue. And if you can add a value without putting tax payers at risk I am all for it. And as you know private schools have failed, 2 in last year in Cherokee county alone. And 1 of them is in a nasty law suite over pre-spending the money and not being able to fulfill the obligation of teaching the kids that parents had paid for. I am not asking for any guarantees of success just do not want to be left with the bill if it fails.

….. The charter schools are not looking to upset the apple cart for parents/teachers who are happy with the system where they learn/teach…no one is forcing a student to enroll or a teacher to apply for employment. It’s a CHOICE, and one I believe is the right of every citizen to make…….

As I said I have no issue with Charter schools as long as they:

……1) Since the charter school uses tax payer money no school should be allowed to spend a dime unless it has a proper bond or form of security in case it goes out of business. Otherwise the school could spend tax payers’ money and than dump the kids back into the system forcing us to pay twice.
2) The school should only get as Buzz pointed the true rate of revenue school get taking into consideration the cost of special needs, ESL………..
3) The schools would best serve a community if it was designed to take on a very focused group of kids enhancing special needs ie math/science school, performing arts, vocational, special education…………………
4) The school should have to submit a high level plan with tough audits to make sure they are meeting high standards to make sure this is not just way to make money off tax payers. …….

Yet I do not like the idea of the state or federal government telling Cherokee county what to do. If you are dissatisfied with local rulings by the school board than vote them out of office. But forcing outside sources on our local community is a recipe for creating more problems long term.

CharterStarter, Too

June 25th, 2011
2:17 pm

John, still makes no sense to me. How would you be double paying if the school went out of business? And, do you know the percentage of schools in Georgia who have? It’s a tiny, tiny percentage….much, much less than the piles of dollars wasted on central office bureaucratic bulge.

Why shouldn’t local districts be held to this same standard then?

John Konop

June 25th, 2011
3:00 pm

CharterStarter, Too,

I do respect your passion for education and I would bet you are very good teacher. As to the liability question: I have personally have been involved with 2 private schools via my kids attending that went out of business.

One school we prepaid and I was forced on an emergency board to figure out how to get the kids through the year when it ran out of money. I am very aware of how the financial ratio model works per classroom at a school via emergency management. In fact I helped build one which the school never had before.

At the end of the day many of us paid twice to get our kids through the year when the school ran out of money. The school had very good well meaning people in charge but their business control skills were lacking at best.

The other school was AHA which both my kids attended. When the new enrollments numbers were dropping we pulled our youngest one out because after doing the modeling I could not figure out how the school would make it through the year. And sadly many parents got caught up in this fiasco this year with law suites pending.

My fear on this issue is simple the charter school spends the money and for whatever reason the school runs short of funds closes and the kids must go back to public school mid year and who pays now? And remember many of the school are for profit so they are protected by bankruptcy laws. The difference being public school cannot gout of business and declare bankruptcy like a privet venture.

John Konop

June 25th, 2011
3:01 pm

Sorry

private not privet

John Konop

June 25th, 2011
3:04 pm

sorry about all the typos

CharterStarter, Too

June 25th, 2011
3:16 pm

Now I understand your issue. Would it make you feel better to know that the charters are only funded month to month? They get a monthly drop from either their local school district or the state based on their FTE count. So, no worries. :)

Larry Major

June 26th, 2011
1:30 am

@CS2
>I keep trying to get you to logic out WHY a school district should keep funds for students they don’t serve.

Local school districts should not keep funding for students they don’t serve and they do not get or keep any funding for students they don’t serve.

State funding is enrollment based and goes to the school where the kids enrolled.
Local funding is BY LAW given to a local charter school in the same amount that the local system would have spent on these kids had they enrolled in a system school.

One thing some folks, including Judge Schoob, seem to misunderstand is the local budgeting process.

Every year, GCPS forecasts the number of students they will serve. As a forecast, it’s not a perfect number, but logically, it does not include ANY kids who left the system for ANY reason. The cost to educate this number of students is compared to the local tax revenue and one of two things is adjusted – either the level of services or the millage rate.

The argument I’ve read claims that local systems will somehow reap a windfall when students leave and the process just doesn’t work that way. Inherent in this argument is the notion that, all other things being equal, the BOE won’t adjust the millage rate – and there is simply no reason to believe this.

Of course other things haven’t been equal with student funding, but they have been with debt service and when GCPS saved a ton of money by restructuring outstanding bonds, they lowered the debt service millage rate. Similarly, if cost per student would decline for some (currently unimaginable) reason, the M&O millage rate would be lowered.

Hopefully this is understandable, but if it isn’t, I’ll keep re-wording it until it is because it is important to understand how this works.

John Konop

June 26th, 2011
8:13 am

CharterStarter, Too,

To suddenly add 900 kids to a school district mid year would be very disruptive and cause major issues for all the kids and more than likely hurt the quality of education for all kids. As I said before a charter school should at least have the finances to guarantee a full year of operations. If you want to take the risk on your kid on a charter school that is your right, but to put other kids at risk is not right.

John Konop

June 26th, 2011
8:37 am

Larry Major,

In all due respect I heard this argument when I was forced on a board for a private school because it was going bankrupt via poor financial controls and budgeting. We built a per class room model with allocations based on revenue per student. The first time the administration and majority of board members saw it was very obvious what areas needed cutting for the school to survive and ratios of students to teacher per classroom.

The model was very easy to forecast for elementary school but as kids needed to take different classes at different levels it became much more difficult to maintain a budget. That is why joint enrolment would be a major savings to tax payers while lifting quality by increasing options. And if you let the requirements for graduation come from the higher education schools once again it would be way more efficient and decrease drop-outs, summer school students, repeat classes, administrative tracking cost………..

As far as charter schools I do think once again special needs school would also save you money and increase quality ie math/science, performing arts, special education……….One again the outliners with special needs are the hardest to budget for and that is the best place for charter schools and joint enrollment.

CharterStarter, Too

June 26th, 2011
10:34 am

@John, In my recollection, I have never known of a charter in Georgia that had to close down mid-year. And even if it did, although there would be some logistical considerations, generally the charter populatiion comes from a variety of schools across a district. All assets go to the district (but not debts). I know what you’re saying, but it’s not a relevant point.

Larry

CharterStarter, Too

June 26th, 2011
10:41 am

Sorry, didn’t mean to hit submit.

@Larry – The charter schools, when they submit their budgets, are required to budget at full enrollment and at 50% enrollment. Most, in their full enrollment projections still put in many contingencies. Why would a school district not plan for contingency – either an influx or an exodus? Besides which, districts have a reserve, so there should never be an immediate impact on operations for districts.

As for Cherokee, Larry, this would be a locally approved school, which in earlier posts you claim would be the appropriate way to go. Your perspective?

Larry Major

June 26th, 2011
3:47 pm

CS2,

The question I addressed concerned school systems being funded for students they don’t serve. To limit the discussion to one lifetime, the details of population forecasting and other budgeting details are better left until they present an issue.

Concerning the Cherokee application, yes, it appears correct legal procedures were followed. Since this is a local issue that doesn’t affect me, I don’t really have any other opinion on it. I do, however, have a question for you since you know about charter school budgets.

Why were Nina Gilbert and Tony Roberts surprised at the funding amount GCPS calculated?

The QBE numbers needed for the calculation were available to even the public back in January, and anyone with a basic knowledge of public school funding could have estimated it close enough – months ago – to know the number GCPS calculated didn’t look wrong. How could Gilbert create any kind of realistic budget without knowing the very basics of funding? How can the Georgia Charter Schools Association possibly help any charter schools with anything, if they don’t know as much as any private citizen could learn with a few hours of reading Georgia law?

I know you’re not a mind reader and don’t actually what they were thinking, but their statements were so bizarre I just wondered if you had any idea why two different people would take the same position that is so far disconnected from reality.

Larry Major

June 26th, 2011
5:43 pm

John Konop,

I have always thought the best thing about charter schools is their ability concentrate in areas of interest not common enough to include in general public schools. This works particularly well in a large system like Gwinnett.

Personally, I don’t know one family interested enough in Chinese culture and language to actually commit to bilingual child rearing, but there are enough interested families in Gwinnett to make New Life Academy a very successful charter school – and that’s a great thing.

GSMST caters to kids with both exceptional intelligence and exceptional drive. There are not enough of these kids in any given school to justify special classes, but county wide there is, and these kids have opportunities available at very few public schools in the country.

As public schools, charter schools cannot use enrollment criteria and must rely on their reputation – which I think is also a good thing. Maybe parents don’t know about GSMST, but you’d be hard pressed to find a GCPS student who doesn’t know this is “The Smart School” and if you aren’t carrying close to a 4.0 you shouldn’t bother applying.

Kids with disabilities are underrepresented to non-existent in our current charter schools, but you are absolutely correct – should a charter school focus on kids with a certain disability, I’m sure it would be a tremendous success for the same reasons other charter schools with a focus are successful. Even better, it wouldn’t cost taxpayers one penny more than what we are currently spending to achieve better results.

Hopefully, the charter school movement will recover from the damage inflicted on it by Commission advocates, and we can get back to doing what’s best for the kids.

CharterStarter, Too

June 26th, 2011
7:55 pm

@Larry, You’e right, I don’t know what they know or don’t know. I think Nina was going to get about $4500 per pupil, which obviously concerned her. This could not possibly be right. I didn’t do any of the numbers, so I don’t know where she should be, but I can’t see how that figure could be right. As you and I have discussed before, a number of factors will keep her fro being exactly where the district is per pupil, but $3500 per pupil is an excessive difference. That’s all I know on this situation.

We don’ need to take a lifetime, but I still don’t see how a charter school could really create that huge of an issue for a district. Most of teh schools are under 300 kids…and the majority of those are under 200 to start. Districts have have that fluctuation in population from year o year. I know that the Cherokee school was a pretty big one – 900 kids. Bizarre to hear that the Cherokee County School System estimated $8M impact to them. How could that possibly be?

CharterStarter, Too

June 26th, 2011
8:17 pm

Apologies for the typos.