The Georgia Charter Educational Foundation, the school’s governing board, voted unanimously to discontinue plans for the Cherokee Charter Academy high school at its meeting Jan. 27.
GCEF Chairman Ernest Taylor said Tuesday the decision to discontinue the high school program is the result of funding woes.
“This decision is not what any of us wants. We desperately want to provide these students with a high quality educational option for high school, but we’ve found that it is impossible based on the current funding options in the state of Georgia,” Taylor said Tuesday.
Cherokee Charter Academy welcomed its first ninth-grade class in August, with more than 40 students, but officials from Charter Schools USA, the management organization of the GCEF board, said enrollment had dropped below 30 students, and funding the high school program was no longer possible.
Taylor said he and other community members have tried to push for change at the state level that would bring in more funding for high schools and charter schools, but said it was in the best interest of Cherokee Charter School students to halt the high school plans.
“We continued to push and work very hard to affect change at the legislative level, but over the past 60 days we had to come to the conclusion that it was not in best interests of the students to continue to try to fight a losing battle,” Taylor said. “We wanted to give them the best opportunity to explore other high school options.”
There are 99 students in eighth grade at Cherokee Charter Academy who won’t have the option of staying at the school for ninth grade, but Taylor said it’s for the best.
“We are not willing to compromise the educational environment and continue to provide an academic space that is not adequate for a growing student body with no realistic solution to the funding problem in sight. We will continue to support parents’ efforts to change the current legislative model that grossly underfunds high school education both in the district sector as well as the charter school arena,” he said.
Taylor said funding is not just a problem for the charter school, but for all schools across the state.
“This issue is not only affecting Cherokee Charter Academy students, but it affects every single high school student in the state of Georgia. Until the Legislature provides adequate funding for high school students, schools will continue to close and scarce resources will continue to be inadequate,” he said.