Commerce superintendent of schools James “Mac” McCoy indicated that the Commerce-City school system is leaning towards becoming a “system of charter schools” at the regular Commerce Board of Education meeting last Monday.
For the past several years, the Georgia Department of Education has worked to evaluate educational programs and funding in state schools.
The Georgia DOE now requires all state funded schools to declare charter school system status — Investing in Educational Excellence (IE2) contract status, or to declare status quo – in which they would continue to follow the rules outlined under the state’s Quality Basic Education Act – by June, 2015.
McCoy pointed to several advantages of a system of charter schools including financial savings from Title 20 waivers, QBE funding with more expenditure control and potential federal implementation grants for each school.
Charter School Systems are public schools that receive state and federal dollars for education. They operate under a charter, which details what it wants to do and how it will operate. A charter system allows teachers, administrators, parents and school boards greater flexibility to determine the educational needs of students within their district. While the charter school must meet all federal mandates, it’s allowed some leeway under the state’s Title 20 rules and may request waivers from provisions. Under charter system status, schools have flexibility to relax class size requirements and seat time restrictions.
While a Charter School System has a blanket charter for all its schools, a system of charter schools requires each school to have an individual charter with the district and BOE. Each school would also have its own governing body, composed of community members.
“(Local school governance) is a huge piece of the charter school system,” said McCoy. “(The DOE) wants the community to have input in pertinent decision making in schools. It’s not a board of education, but its more than your typical school council.”
While there are perks of becoming a charter system, the process is not without its disadvantages.
Systems of charter schools are subject to performance evaluations and must meet or exceed state averages and previous system performance goals and federal and state accountability measures. The charter status can be revoked for non-performing schools, which will lose all flexibility and become subject to a possible negative financial impact.
For the full story, see the April 10 issue of The Commerce News.