Charter school prepares for May 14 lottery
by Kyle Dominy
kdominy@cherokeetribune.com
May 11, 2011 12:00 AM | 2472 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The inaugural class of Cherokee County’s first charter school will be selected this weekend.

The Cherokee Charter Academy is set to hold its student enrollment lottery at its campus on Sixes Road in Canton on May 14.

The school, which was chartered under the controversial Georgia Charter School Commission, plans to select 710 Cherokee students to fill its classrooms in the coming school year. The academy will open its doors with classes for kindergarten through seventh grade students. An eighth grade class will be added for its second year.

Lyn Carden, a Cherokee County resident and board member of the Georgia Charter Education Foundation, a non-profit group that holds the school’s charter and will oversee its operations, said the lottery will begin at 9 a.m.

“The lottery will be broken up by grade beginning with kindergarten and first grade at 9 a.m.,” Ms. Carden said. “We’ll start the day off with an overview of our process so the parents will know what’s going one.”

The students will be selected at random electronically. The lottery will continue at 10 a.m. with the selection of second-and third-grade students. Fourth and fifth-grade applicants will be selected at 11 a.m., while the final lottery, for sixth- and seventh-graders, will commence at noon.

Parents who applied to enroll their children in the school do not have to attend the lottery.

Those selected by the lottery will be mailed registration packages.

The Cherokee Charter Academy received 2,400 applications during its open enrollment period from Feb. 15 to April 15.

“I thought we would get a healthy number, but I’m surprised at the number of applications we received,” said Sandy Castro, the state coordinator of operations for Georgia for Charter Schools USA. “I knew the support was there, so it was a nice surprise.”

Charter Schools USA Inc., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is the company managing the school.

Those students not selected in the lottery will be placed on a waiting list.

“Everybody that participates in this lottery will know where they stand,” Ms. Castro said. “Those that don’t make it will go to the top of the waiting list. Then those who applied after the enrollment period will be added to the list.”

The Cherokee Charter Academy is still accepting applications for enrollment; however, Ms. Castro could not say how many applications had been received since the close of the enrollment period.

The next step for the academy is hiring teachers and staff.

“We’re busy beavers,” Ms. Carden said. “We’re actively collecting and reviewing resumes and looking for our staff.”

The school selected Vanessa Suarez as its founding principal earlier this month.

Cherokee Charter Academy has one potential hurdle coming down the road – the still pending lawsuit challenging the state’s right to charter schools.

Two years ago, seven local school boards, including DeKalb Gwinnett and Atlanta public schools, filed suit arguing that only local school boards have the constitutional right to charter schools.

The Cherokee County School System is not a part of the lawsuit.

The Cherokee Charter Academy was denied by the Cherokee County School Board prior to the school’s charter being granted by the Georgia Charter School Commission late last year.

The case has made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court; however, in a March decision, the court delayed ruling on the case. No further hearing has been scheduled.

Meantime, Ms. Castro said the Cherokee charter Academy will stay the course.

“We are going to maintain the path that we are one,” she said. “We have a charter and we are going to move forward.”
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