Charter schools receive extended time for petitions
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
July 30, 2011 12:00 AM | 3002 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb County School District board members have extended the petition timeline for local charter schools requesting renewal or a start-up.

The board initially addressed the renewal of charter school petitions for Imagine International Academy of Mableton and Imagine International Academy of Smyrna, and the start-up petitions for STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) Charter School and Turning Point Academy of Excellence Charter School at the June 23 board meeting.

At that time, the board granted a 30-day extension for the petitions, but according to Dr. U.S. Davidson, director of alternative education programs for Cobb, the board will take an additional 60 days to review the petitions again and bring them forward at the Sept. 14 work session and render denial or approval of the petitions at the Sept. 29 board meeting.

School board members are discussing start-up, five-year term petitions for Turning Point Academy of Excellence Charter School and STEAM Academy of Cobb, a five-year renewal petition for Imagine International Academy of Smyrna and a two-year renewal petition for Imagine International Academy of Mableton.

Renewals and start-up petitions are being considered for the start of the 2012-13 school year, so the upcoming school year will not be affected by the September decisions.

Byron Greene, a charter board member for STEAM Charter School addressed the board Thursday night, thanking members for giving the school the additional time to petition.

“We have secured a memorandum for the location,” Greene said, not disclosing the exact address, “so, some of the concerns that you initially addressed, will be resolved when you read this memorandum.”

Greene did, however, say that the school would be located near Mableton and Powder Springs.

“We like the opportunity that charter schools provide,” the educator of 36 years added, “and we would like to see you move ahead with the consideration.”

Cobb residents, including a teacher and Imagine International Academy of Mableton charter school principal Marcus Barber, also spoke to board members, asking them to please renew their petition for the 2012-13 school year.

The charter school, which serves kindergarten through eighth-graders, is about to begin its fourth year as a charter school in Cobb

County.

“As board members, you are concerned about the education of this district … this is a viable option for parents in south Cobb environment,” Barber said.

There are approximately 650 students currently registered to attend Imagine in 2011-2012 and the administration has projected that parents will volunteer more than 13,000 hours of their time in the next school year as well.

“We have a well-balanced budget and a sustainable financial plan,” he added. “More than 650 students and their families are counting on the board members to vote ‘yes’ for Imagine.”

Robin Pede, an Imagine teacher, asked that board members give students a chance to finish at a school where they started four years ago, something she said that she never had because as the child of a soldier, she was moved from schools often, attending 13 schools in 12 years.

“We have made great strides during our charter years,” she proclaimed. The school recently graduated their first 8th grade class of students who started with the school in fifth-grade.

David Morgan, the Cobb school board member who represents the southeast post, said that he has received some feedback from parents stating their support for the renewal of the program.

However, he has not yet decided whether or not he will recommend approval for continuance of the charter school.

“I would like to meet with the families in that school and discuss the school’s position before announcing my position,” he said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

Stultz, who represents southwest Cobb residents and Imagine International Academy in Smyrna, said that has received communications in support of the renewal of the charter.

“I support the renewal because parents have made the choice to send their children to the school and I support their right to choose,” he added.

According to the Georgia Department of Education, a charter school is a public school of choice that operates under the terms of a charter, or contract, with an authorizer, such as the state and local boards of education or the Georgia Charter Schools Commission.

Charter schools receive flexibility from certain state and local rules in exchange for a higher degree of accountability for raising student achievement. Charter schools are held accountable by their authorizer(s) for upholding the terms of their charter.

Renewals were deemed last year for Kennesaw Charter School, Walton High School and Sedalia Park and Addison elementary schools.
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