The Coweta County Board of Education in a June 24 called meeting voted 6-1 to deny the application by the Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia that would have allowed the K-3 school to continue to operate and to expand through the seventh grade in August.
Upon hearing an analysis of the charter school’s application from Coweta County Superintendent Steve Barker, the board voted 6-1 to deny the application for the Coweta Charter Academy to join the Coweta County School System, said school system spokesperson Dean Jackson. The opposing vote was cast by board member April Parker.
Though local and statewide efforts on behalf of the charter school movement are ongoing, the ruling by the Coweta school board appears to have the result of preventing the Senoia school from re-opening in August. Coweta Charter Academy representatives at the school’s June 2 town hall meeting said nearly 600 applications had been received for the 2011-2012 school year.
“Today is a sad and very disappointing day,” said charter school Principal Terry Stollar. “The Coweta Board of Education has stolen education choice away from the people of Coweta. Instead of attempting to help students succeed, it has put money and power ahead of students and families. In Coweta Charter Academy’s inaugural year, CRCT test scores were very impressive. Our first graders were 100 percent proficient, second graders 97 percent and third graders 92 percent on their reading scores; 99 percent, 97 percent and 67 percent respectively in Math. In third grade, 33 percent of the students are on free or reduced lunch and 25 percent of the students taking the test are special education students. All of this was accomplished in a rented church facility that housed 175 students. Imagine the impact we could have had in a new facility serving a larger population.”
Jackson said the analysis presented to the school board covered four areas including evidence for innovation within the charter school’s structure, Coweta County’s system-wide need for an additional elementary school, evidence of student academic performance during Coweta Charter Academy’s first year of operations and the governance structure of the school.
The analysis of the charter application and school’s performance was conducted since the petition was presented to the system on June 3, Jackson said.
The analysis was developed from information within the application, from meeting with Coweta Charter Academy parents and Charter Schools USA officials, from board member and superintendent attendance at the charter school’s June 2 town hall meeting and from communication with Coweta Charter Academy representatives, said Jackson.
“Coweta has taken a huge step back and the students of our community will suffer,” said Stollar. “We can only hope that taxpayers will allow their rage to turn to a productive end that forces future legislation to be put into place that abolishes the ability of a competitor being the only authorizing authority for schools. Taxpayers should have the right to determine where their taxes go. The monopoly created by the current legislation makes it nearly impossible for competition that would raise the bar on education and allow our children to compete better in the future.”
To view a copy of the analysis provided by the Superintendent, and a legal analysis provided by school system counsel, go to the Coweta County School System’s website at www.cowetaschools.org and follow related links under “School System News.”