Cherokee Charter is facing $1.3M budget shortfall
by Megan Thornton
March 01, 2012 12:47 AM | 4414 views | 15 15 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Facing a $1.3 million budget shortfall for this year, the Cherokee Charter Academy Governance Council met Wednesday to discuss next year’s budget forecast and school enrollment.

Two factors — lower than expected enrollment and lack of available funding — are contributing to the shortfall, according to charter officials.

The concerns come at a time when a constitutional amendment to allow the state to create charter schools is making its way through the state Legislature.

Governance Council members George Lopos, Heather Blevins and Larry Blase held the monthly meeting at the local charter academy to get an update on where the school stands financially. Members of the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation Board of Directors and Charter Schools USA, a professional education management organization, attended the meeting in person or via teleconference call. Local board members Quentin Thomas and Vince Baker were absent.

Governing board member Lyn Carden and Charter Schools USA representative Sandy Castro attended the meeting, while Charter Schools USA representatives Judith Brown and Hillary Daigle as well as governing board member Danny Dukes were on the phone via teleconference.

Daigle pointed out the school’s revenue is short of projections by about $1.3 million.

“There’s two factors there — lower enrollment and the second factor being actual funding itself and how it’s coming in,” Daigle said.

In the financial summary for fiscal year 2012, the school budgeted for 995 students, but the school anticipates only having 822 students enrolled. Right now 825 students are enrolled at the charter school.

The average Quality Basic Education revenue per student from the state is budgeted at $5,781, but the summary forecasts receiving $6,667 per student. The financial summary also forecasts a net school deficit of $77,023 for the fiscal year.

Brown presented the budget variances and said that she expected total revenue for the year at $388,000 less than budgeted.

Charter Principal Vanessa Suarez said total school enrollment, determined in January, is at 825 students with 95 percent in attendance. Twenty-two students withdrew from the school in January and there was one student suspended, she said.

“Since this is our first year, we will not receive funding for ESOL, special education and Title I students until mid-year,” Suarez said.

The school has 74 employees, Suarez said.

Suarez said almost all students have recommitted to attend the school in the fall but she had not confirmed the exact number. She said 17 have officially enrolled for the next school year and there are 85 students on the waitlist.

Suarez said 193 students have applied for the inaugural kindergarten class this fall with 120 slots available. There are 37 applicants for first grade but the school is over capacity for the grade level.

There will not be any more parent information sessions during this school year because there are already more applicants than slots available, Suarez said.

Both Thomas and council member George Lopos’ terms ended effective Wednesday, and both will not continue on with the board.

Council Member Heather Blevins said the two positions should be filled by local business professionals and the board will seek out interested parties and report back at the next meeting held March 28.

Blevins also commended Cherokee Charter Academy parents for their strong support of House Bill 1162, which would provide the state the ability to authorize charter schools.

The board also discussed benchmark data from student testing, which was added to the agenda. For reading and math categories, all grades included maintained above 80 percent in benchmark requirements, they reported.

Students will take the CRCT test in April and the statewide fifth-grade writing test, Suarez said.

The board also discussed a parent survey taken about 90 days into the school year. About 55 percent of all parents with enrolled children responded and 95 percent of responders said they were satisfied with the school, they said.
Comments
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yanhughes
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March 14, 2012
As long as the kids are getting good education, we parents probably do not care where the TAX dollars go. Can this charter school provide any test scores from the history (even the other ones owned by the same company), especially the SAT scores, that is all the matter to me!
Sixes Rd Parent
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March 04, 2012
They argue that the school is needed and organized a "lottery event" last year planning for 995 students. Unfortunately, January enrollment was only 825 students (83%) of planning. Essentially, they over estimate the "need" by 17%. Now for the kicker...of the students enrolled, 22 (3%) left in January. Why? And it gets better...of the 825 enrolled in January only 95% (784 students) are in attendance (41 students aren't in attendance). Where are they? Is the school being paid to educate students who aren't there?
Kelly A
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March 02, 2012
It is all in how it is said. You can twist words to make them sound different than the truth. For example:

A woman without her man, is nothing.

A woman, without her, man is nothing.

CCA does not have a $1.3M shortfall, and is funded for next year.
Cally2u
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March 02, 2012
Charter Schools USA and Red Apple ties, Charter Schools USA's failure/refusal to to fulfill requests and resolve outstanding issues made by the local BOE before approval, Danny Dukes, Quintin Thomas and their involvement, local funding that wasn't there, record of problems in other states with testing and debt, and so many more red flags present and pointed out prior to the school opening were ignored by a few members of the BOE and our State representatives. Benchmarks THEY set are meaningless so why bother posting. All this and CCA still has time to load up the CCA students and parents to haul them, during school, to rally support on their behalf. It's long overdue for the parents, teachers and taxpayers to stand up to the bully tactics used to drain county tax funds from our public schools by someone who has a proven record of not being able to manage his own debts.
jbraml
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March 01, 2012
Shut it down. Free market people should it is a money loser.
CCSD
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March 01, 2012
HA HA HA
informed voter
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March 01, 2012
"There will not be any more parent information sessions during this school year because there are already more applicants than slots available, Suarez said."

Of course not, the priveleged few who stole tax dollars already have their kids enrolled. Why would they want to offer applications to more deserving students?

idiomatic Avenger
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March 01, 2012
Seems to me the proof here is that with the Charter academy serving 825 students there is more money for 825 students at schools in CCSD. So where do you see that the presence of charter has impacted a school financially? If I student does not attend a school in CCSD, but the parents of that student have still paid the property tax that funds the school district, then who is really the winner in the funding battle that does not exist between a charter school and a traditional school? As the facts stand the CCSD school system is getting all funding from the state and local taxes that are allocated for public education.

The continued idiomatic rhetoric coming from those who just don’t want to be bothered by facts seem to be those who drive the non-issue that is being handed out by the media in the state. Property taxes are down due to the down market in home sales. These are no market conditions that a charter school initiated or caused to happen. How can you continue to herald a charter school that has used no money for CCSD Schools to somehow financially impact a CCSD school in the first place? Facts’ are stubborn things they still remain even when one does not want to see them.

Dear Gov
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March 01, 2012
Here is the proof that the State does not need to be in the charter business especially with an out-of-state for-profit company.

How about fully funding our public schools instead of wasting tax payer dollars on flops like Chip's Charter!
ga_mama
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March 01, 2012
Amen to that! I couldn't understand why anyone would choose the charter school over the public schools we have. Sixes, Liberty, Freedom are some of the highest achieving schools in the country, not just the state. People purposely move to this area because the schools are top notch. I spoke to one Mom who had her son withdrawn from the Charter School because she said it was so bad. (There was a whole lot more to the conversation but I'm sure nobody wants to read a novel) I love the public schools here and wouldn't send my kids to a for-profit business to get educated.
ask chip rogers
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March 01, 2012
Go ahead and ask if he can find any more tax dollars for you because he knows how to work the system to make money. Just like his land and hotel deals. Than you can name your school after him "Chip Rogers Charter school"
Doesn't Add Up
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March 01, 2012
Parents may want to consider sending their children to a school that can do basic math when it comes to their finances.

This school was never needed, and save those who want to make a profit from our tax dollars, it is not wanted.

Seeing Danny Dukes and Quentin Thomas are on the board should give you a clue to steer clear of this school.
mammap
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March 02, 2012
My gifted child attends the Charter School and we are looking forward to the Cambridge Advanced program for next year. The funds are in place for 2012-2013. I Assume you haven't done your research or are very closed minded.
Say No to for-profit
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March 01, 2012
Too Bad, So Sad that this for profit school will not make a profit off the backs of our tax dollars!

How is it that they cannot achieve more than 83% of their enrollment? I guess the grass was not greener for all students.
Cally2u
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March 02, 2012
Charter Schools USA and Red Apple Management ties, their refusal to fulfill requests from the local BOE for approval, Danny Dukes, Quintin Thomas, local funding that wasn't there, there record of debt and problems in other states with testing and debt, and so many more red flags present and pointed out prior to the school opening were ignored by our own representatives. Benchmarks THEY set are meaningless so why bother posting. All this and CCA still has time to load up the CCA students and parents to haul them, during school, to rally support on their behalf. It's long overdue for the parents, teachers and taxpayers to stand up to the bully tactics used to drain county tax funds from our public schools by someone who has a proven record of not being able to manage his own debts.
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