Will district teachers lose jobs as a result of charter school approval?
No. District teachers are hired as a result of demand for their services. Demand is based on the number of students in each school. When this year’s district budget was approved, the number of teachers needed was determined. The budget already included the assumption that would be opened. Therefore, any teachers who were hired or are currently working in a district school should not be affected at all by the opening of the charter school. This was simply a scare tactic based in false information aimed at motivating teachers to come out against charter schools.
Is the charter school taking money from the district? Is the school district in financial trouble?
This is a frequently misrepresented issue when a new charter school opens. Tax payer money is allotted to each child in the district. The money follows the child to whichever public school he or she attends. If a child attends a public charter school, the money follows the child to that school. This underlines the inherent conflict of interest of a school district giving the authority to approve a charter school. It’s similar to a Burger King authorizing the opening of a McDonalds. Just as customers choose where to spend their money in that situation, opening a charter school allows parents to spend their money at the school of their choice.
As far as the school district being in financial trouble, according to a June 1 article on the front page of the Cherokee Ledger, Superintendent Petruzielo stated that the district was in better financial condition than previously thought and the 2012 budget cuts were not as deep as expected. He was fully aware of the charter school’s 995 applications before June 1. Dr. Petruzielo himself presented the district’s anticipated 2012 budget in a positive light even with the full knowledge of the charter school impact.
Do Charter Schools USA schools lag behind Georgia Schools in performance and meeting AYP?
When answering this question, it is crucial to compare apples to apples. In Florida schools, 39 percent of CSUSA schools met adequate yearly progress in 2009. That compares to only 23 percent of all public schools in Florida. CSUSA schools on average met 95 percent of the criteria for AYP versus only 72 percent of public schools in Florida. You can’t compare those numbers to similar statistics in Georgia because the standardized tests between the two states are not equal. According to the Report Card on Education from the American Legislative Exchange Council, Florida is ranked 3rd and Georgia is ranked 27th The reason Florida ranks high nationally for academic results, yet has relatively lower AYP scores than Georgia, is due to Florida’s more challenging standardized tests and requirements. The best indicator of performance is to compare peer-to-peer. Currently, that comparison is not possible in Georgia because AYP results have not been released for 2010. However, the Coweta Charter Academy which opened in 2010 and is operated by CSUSA, did average over 92 percent proficiency on its CRCT tests this year. Once charter schools are established and all schools in question are being compared based on the same tests, those performance scores will be accurate. Until then, this is just a way to inflame and bend statistics for the purpose of attempting to discredit CSUSA. If all CSUSA schools were considered as one district, on average, the CSUSA district ranked an A according to Florida standard tests.
Are Cherokee Charter Academy teachers being hired without certifications from out-of-state?
No. All Cherokee Charter Academy teachers are required to have Georgia certification.
Was the GCEF and local governing council appointed by CSUSA?
No. This is a complete falsehood. The GCEF is an independent legal Georgia not-for-profit entity with members from Cherokee County and the local council includes parents, local business professionals and community advocates. CSUSA answers to the GCEF, not the other way around. If CSUSA does not perform, GCEF can fire them. Unlike traditional public schools, if a charter school doesn’t meet strict expectations, it closes.
Will the building be owned by Charter Schools USA? If so, what happens if the school closes?
The school is not owned in any part by Charter Schools USA. In light of the Supreme Court decision, there is currently no ownership or lease agreement active on the building. However, if the school is approved, Red Apple Development, an entity completely independent of Charter Schools USA, but owned by the same owner, will purchase or lease the building, then will lease it back to the Georgia Charter Education Foundation. The GCEF has complete control over the building. If they decide to fire CSUSA at some point in the future, they will continue their lease agreement with Red Apple Development. Red Apple will handle the bond financing to purchase the school.