State school board considering 5-year charter extension
by Megan Thornton
January 13, 2013 12:00 AM | 3781 views | 6 6 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Georgia Board of Education will consider a five-year extension of Cherokee Charter Academy’s charter agreement at its meeting Thursday, and Charter Schools Division Director Louis Erste said it’s likely to be approved.

The contract calls for the charter school to add grades nine to 12 in the next few years.

Total expenses to operate the school for 2014 exceed $7.7 million and in 2018 are projected to surpass $12 million, according to the academy’s five-year budget submitted as part of the petition.

“The state board is likely to approve their charter next week, although it could wait until February to approve it,” Erste said in an email Friday.

According to an information item on Thursday’s agenda, the recommendation for renewal will occur at the Feb. 21 board meeting as a K-12 state chartered special school to run from July 1 to June 30, 2018.

The plan to add high school grades to the K-8 school on Sixes Road in Canton was revealed by Georgia Charter Educational Foundation Chair Lyn Carden after the governing board’s October teleconference meeting.

According to the budget, the school plans in the future to add 61,000 square feet to its 84,000-square-foot facility for a new high school.

In its charter petition, school officials tout students’ standardized test performance as at or above Cherokee County School District levels for the CRCT exam, which is a requirement of its charter in addition to posting a 2 percent increase of its students each year that meet or exceed state standards for the CRCT. It has the same guidelines for students taking the state End of Course Test.

It also proposes to exceed state or local district graduation averages — whichever is higher — by 3 percent. The proposal also includes plans to encourage middle school, high school and college readiness among its students.

The charter school recently hit a peak enrollment of just over 1,000 students, compared to CCSD’s over 38,000 students. The school projects a total enrollment of about 1,745 students by the fifth year of its charter term.

The supporting documents for the application also include budget projections, including a management fee to Charter Schools USA of $689,050 and board operating expenses of $236,787 for fiscal year 2014.

The school’s rent for the building, which is leased from a private company, is budgeted to cost $563,024 for 2014. Maintenance and utilities are projected to cost $290,000 for the year.

In 2018, the fifth year of the schools five-year charter, those numbers are expected to increase with the increased number of students. Rent projections are over $1.2 million and maintenance and utilities to cost approximately $340,000.

The petition does not include a copy of the management agreement between Georgia Charter Educational Foundation and its educational service provider, Charter Schools USA, as the application deadline was Nov. 1.

“The final executed management agreement will be provided at an agreed upon date per the Georgia Department of Education,” the petition states.

The board approved a management agreement with CSUSA during its Nov. 28 teleconference meeting in a move that Georgia Press Association Attorney David Hudson called unlawful.

After only discussing the contract in executive session, the contract was not released for public view until the vote was taken.

“There is no exception in the open meetings law that allows a closed session to go over a proposed management contract,” Hudson said in an email.

One of the most apparent changes to the new agreement is that the Florida-based education management company is now entitled to compensation for its service in an amount not to exceed 15 percent of revenues from overall budget from both the Cherokee school and Coweta Charter Academy.

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Look closer
January 16, 2013
Their five year plan includes adding high school students but does not show any budgeted amount for sports. I would think their grad rate would be signigicantlly higher than the state or county average. After all, these are students whose parents have chosen the school that best meets their needs. Rumor has it that the leasing company is behind on their property tax bill. Again, they dod receive state tax dollars so they should be held under the same scrutiny as any other state funded school. Where is the accountablity?
Robert James
January 17, 2013
The school is awesome and congratulations to the school getting the five year extension and new high school. Charter schools rock!
Big Jim
January 15, 2013
Still can't believe with the high marks that the Cherokee School District attains that my tax dollars go to this school. What a scam! How many special needs and ESOL students do they service? It's easy to attain high marks when you open a "private" school and make it free for families that can get their children there. Until they offer transportation to all students and have to allow special needs and ESOL kids a way to attend...this will continue to be a farce!!!
Robert James
January 17, 2013
Your tax dollars are going to a great school. No scam there. All schools in Cherokee county should try and run like the caharter schools. Why do we blow so much money with all of the admin costs at the school board. let the principals run their schools like a business and get the school board out!!!!
January 18, 2013
My child is special needs, we have him here. He has an IEP and a sped teacher. He gets accommodations and HELP which we were sorely lacking in Carmel Elementary. You are ill informed. And, although we take, him to school ourselves, we are low income because of having also another special needs child in the home. Our school has many families that ate either special needs, low income, or both. We were not cherry picked because of high performing students color, race or financial ability my child education is important enough for me to suffer through the stresses of having to drive him back and forth and a financial burden said that and curves on a daily basis..
January 18, 2013
My son is special needs, He receives an i.e.p, and accommodations. He has his own special ed teacher. She is inside his classroom at all times and assists his regular teacher as well. He is doing wonderfully. He was not doing wonderfully at Carmel Elementary however. they refuse to take proper care of him and give him the assistance he needed. For your school to be performing well all the students need to be given access to an appropriate education. He was not. the baby now is moot point. We have need for the school. Parents want this school. I fought for this cool, and fought hard. And I will keep fighting for this cool it is important part of my son's education and I will continue there as long as they are performing how they are performing now. And when we get to High School he will still be there. Again, as long as they are performing how they are performing now.
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