Cherokee Rejects Charter School

June 24, 2011 21:15 pm

by Buzz Brockway · 34 comments

I just heard (via Twitter) the Cherokee School Board rejected a charter application from Cherokee Charter Academy by a vote of 4-3. Cherokee Charter Academy is one of the schools threatened by the Supreme Court’s ruling against State charter schools. The school is scheduled to open this fall.

Earlier in the day Galloway reported that Cherokee County Schools said they’d be happy to comply with an open records request, just as soon as they received a check for $324,608.52. Apparently, AG Olens is looking into the matter.

It is my understanding, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, that a couple of Cherokee County School Board members were tossed out over the charter school issue. It looks like that battle isn’t finished.

UPDATE: Canton Patch has a report from the School Board meeting. Cherokee Charter Academy would open with 975 students. They wanted $6.8 million and it appears the School Board rejected the application because of that cost. I wonder though, what does it cost Cherokee Public schools to operate a school of 975 students? More or less than $6.8 million?

UPDATE 2: According to these folks, Cherokee spends $7438 per student. Of course that includes special needs students who cost much more so the cost for the general student population is somewhat less. However the CCA request works out to be roughly $6975 per student which doesn’t seem out of line. Why not just offer CCA a smaller per student amount rather then reject the application outright?

UPDATE 3: Coweta rejected a charter application from Coweta Charter Academy. Coweta Schools said the charter school didn’t perform well but the school said they did.

saltycracker June 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Canton Patch tweet –

“7:40 p.m. Mike Chapman gets the loudest applause of the night when he says people have a choice if they don’t like the schools: They can leave.”

Even if one was for denial, that’s not the way to get your point across. Words that haunt….and a sad commentary on the applausers.

Harry June 24, 2011 at 10:17 pm

The government schoolteachers were there in force, no doubt.

BJ Van Gundy June 24, 2011 at 10:59 pm

There are those opposed to the school that said “there is no need for charter schools in Cherokee County”.

I would suggest however that saying “there no need for charter schools in Cherokee County,” given that 2600 folks applied for 1ooo openings, is like saying “there is no need for a Starbucks” even though the place is constantly full of people buying coffee.

It is amazing to me the way that the charter concept has been twisted in Cherokee County by the teachers and administration. Describing the concept as “costing” some amount this year and some cumulative amount over 5 years is ignoring the “savings” of the system not having the requirement to teach those children that have chosen to go to the charter.

If 1000 kids move to Hall County from Cherokee would it not be the case that the school system would have to spend a commensurate amount less? Would they not require a commensurate amount less in teachers?

Yup! The fact is if the school system suddenly had half as many students they would need half as many teachers.

Why is it that it is more important to all of these anti-charter forces in Cherokee County that the jobs of the teachers be protected rather than parents being able to do what they can to do what they believe will improve the education of their children?

The problem we have is that those that manage the status quo are more interested in maintaining the status quo than they are in educating our children.

birdfan June 24, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Aileen Dodd (AJC) reports about Mike Chapman (RINO): “What I hate the most about this situation is that we should not be pitting one against the other,” said school board member Chapman before the vote. He also told those who wanted more choices to consider relocating. “If you feel like the Cherokee County school system isn’t meeting your needs you have the option to move.”

http://www.ajc.com/news/fayette/cherokee-board-rejects-charter-987140.html

John Konop June 25, 2011 at 8:21 am

I live in Cherokee county and have friends on both sides of this issue. And to give full disclosure my wife and I used private schools through 3rd grade for both of our kids. And we have one kid graduating next year from high school at Woodstock (public) and the other child is at Sixes (public) going into 5th grade.

Overall my wife and I are very pleased overall with the quality of education. Also my son did have Mrs. Chapman as a teacher in junior high and she is an excellent teacher.

With that said it does seem like this issue has gotten very personal and emotional on both sides. And I was asked about this issue by local representative what my overall take on the issue. And below is what I said.

I do think Charter schools can serve a great need for school districts. Yet the following should be considered before jumping in:

1) Since the charter school uses tax payer money no school should be allowed to spend a dime unless it has a proper bond or form of security in case it goes out of business. Otherwise the school could spend tax payers’ money and than dump the kids back into the system forcing us to pay twice.

2) The school should only get as Buzz pointed the true rate of revenue school get taking into consideration the cost of special needs, ESL………..

3) The schools would best serve a community if it was designed to take on a very focused group of kids enhancing special needs ie math/science school, performing arts, vocational…………………

4) The school should have to submit a high level plan with tough audits to make sure they are meeting high standards to make sure this is not just way to make money off tax payers.

I realize many on both sides will not agree with my opinions like on many issues. But in any deal if both sides do not walk away thinking they did not get what they fully wanted, yet can live with deal, it is usually a very good compromise.

SOGTP June 25, 2011 at 8:44 am

There is something I don’t understand about the Charter school issue.

Why does anyone care if a Charter school is opened?

Isn’t it the parents decision how best to spend their money and educate their children? Afterall, it is the parents money whether it be property taxes or out-of-pocket.

John Konop June 25, 2011 at 8:53 am

SOGTP,

I would think any rational fiscally conservative person would care about this issue.

……1) Since the charter school uses tax payer money no school should be allowed to spend a dime unless it has a proper bond or form of security in case it goes out of business. Otherwise the school could spend tax payers’ money and than dump the kids back into the system forcing us to pay twice. ……

SOGTP June 25, 2011 at 9:11 am

I understand your points John. If parents were given back the money allocated from their property, state and federal taxes for school in order to spend on the Charter schools, then it’s not taxpayers money. It’s private property.

My point is this … school is not FREE even though everyone says it is. Its NOT, people pay for it in taxes to their county, state and federal governments. Why not give this money back to the parents and allow them to choose and pay for the school of their choice. It should include a percentage plus up for parents that can’t afford the $6,975.

John Konop June 25, 2011 at 9:34 am

…… Why not give this money back to the parents and allow them to choose and pay for the school of their choice……

1) Many private schools are going out of business and once again tax payers could end up paying twice. In my county alone two went out of business this year one is in a major lawsuit over prepayments with parents.

2) The average private school charges about 10 to 12k for elementary schools, 14 to 16k middle school and 16 to 20k for high school. This is why we have a small percentage of kids attending private schools. Even with the 6 to 7k most kids would not have this option for obvious reasons. The concept behind public schools was advocating by the father of the fee market system (Adam Smith) to make sure we had a system that gave opportunity for all, because without education your economy will go backwards.

3) I do think what you want can be achieved by promoting joint enrollment and using preexisting infrastructure with better results and much more cost effective. If the state allowed the curriculum requirements for k-12 come from the colleges, vo-tech schools……kids could just joint enroll as early as junior high and graduate with real viable job skills or be on an advance track for a 4 year college. And kids could use private or public schools with the joint enrolment voucher and pay the difference for private.

John Konop June 25, 2011 at 8:56 am

This is also a real issue a fiscal conservative would want straighten out before approval.

……UPDATE 2: According to these folks, Cherokee spends $7438 per student. Of course that includes special needs students who cost much more so the cost for the general student population is somewhat less. However the CCA request works out to be roughly $6975 per student which doesn’t seem out of line. Why not just offer CCA a smaller per student amount rather then reject the application outright?…..

SOGTP June 25, 2011 at 9:14 am

I don’t understand why the people of Cherokee allow bureaucrats to make the determination whether a charter school can or can’t be open. Who says the bureaucrat knows best?

John Konop June 25, 2011 at 9:37 am

SOGTP,

It was decided by elected officials. If you do not like the local officials you have the right to vote them out. We got into this mess by heavy handed federal approach to education like No Child Left Behind, Math 123………….

SOGTP June 25, 2011 at 1:01 pm

John I agree 110%. The education President G.W. Bush ruined schools. Here in Forsyth County the School Board does not take No Child Left Behind money and thus we can run and test in our schools as we please.

I would say the Forsyth schools are pretty good.

Libertarian Chick June 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm

John, Math 123 was a state thing: Kathy Cox and all that. Other states tried it and put it to rest as a bad idea.

John Konop June 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I think a know little somethng about math 123.

Pro & Con: Should Georgia scrap its integrated math curriculum?

http://www.ajc.com/opinion/pro-con-should-georgia-847250.html

Libertarian Chick June 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I’m not saying you don’t. I am saying that neither NCLB nor Obama had anything to do with Georgia deciding to go with Math 123.
The title says “Should ‘Georgia…'”, not “Should ‘America'”.

jeff June 25, 2011 at 10:00 am

This whole issue seems to be greatly misunderstood by many people. This issue isn’t about charter schools at all. Charter schools are good and an effective alternative to education. Charter schools have been set up by many districts and have been successful meeting the needs of the students in those districts. I know of one district that created a charter school for at-risk students and I know of another district that created a charter school for their gifted students. Both charter schools have been very successful in serving the needs of those students. These charter schools are created locally and created to serve a portion of the student population that the local system saw necessary to serve.

The problem with the State Charter School Commission is that it forces a charter school into the local community that the local system didn’t see necessary. Some of these charter schools are nothing more than defacto private schools. Why should appointees of the governor, president of senate, and speaker of the house be able to decide whether or not a local community (sometimes hundreds of miles away) needs a charter school. If the local school board decided that the charter school wasn’t necessary, then what gives the commission from Atlanta the right to force it down their throats? The whole charter school commission law came about because someone with influence was denied the chance to start a charter school by the local system so they brought it to their friends in the legislature.

Unless you are very familiar with school funding, you won’t fully understand what this process does to the local school budget. It DOES take money directly away from the school system. There is a line item on every school system’s QBE allotment sheet that reads “Charter System Adjustment”. The money in this line item is subtracted directly from the QBE allotment bottom line. Ask Calhoun County (a very poor, rural system in southwest Georgia) about the money they are losing each year to a charter school that they turned down but was approved by the state commission. The money schools receive per student is not tied to instruction alone. That money also is tied to maintenance/operation, transportation, nutrition, etc… If the school system loses those students to a charter school they are losing that money that money that was tied to all these departments. While their instruction costs do go down if they lose students, the cost of maintenance/operation, transportation, and other factors stay the same. They have to come up with that money from somewhere. If the system decided to open up a charter school own their own then obviously they have a plan but when one is forced on them, it really hurts their budget.

Again, charter schools are great and have been proven to be successful when they are created by the local system to serve a particular student population. However, a state charter school commission has no right to override the authority of the local system. The local system knows best what those students need, not a commission in Atlanta. A state charter school commission is not the correct way to create these charter schools.

saltycracker June 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Agree it is a local call. The financial complexity involving the taxpayer, district, state & federal fundings, mandates and transfers that make up the per pupil expense would take some effort to unbundle.

Interestingly the school district has been the County’s largest employer and has raised the standard of living for many folks in the County for some time plus the population growth has aided in raising the bar. At the same time the state & feds have mortgaged the future with promises of the heaven on earth after-work life. All that combines for a heck of an employee territorial approach.

More folks want more variety or see greener pastures and the demand for charter schools is there. The taxpayer and strained schools could use a little relief but not at more cost. I personally think the Cherokee schools are excellent but if my neighbor feels differently they should have the option as long as it does not cost me.

The wrong way to handle this is to tell a bunch of taxpayers, if you don’t like the way we run it, get out. The right way would be for the District (not the charter applicant) to do a little due dilegence in unbundling, establish a number and allow a qualified charter school the per pupil money they qualify for. And that money needs to be dispersed effectively.

Unbundling costs won’t be easy.

SOGTP June 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm

This is what I truly don’t understand. Why do people, citizens, allow some mental midget bureaucrat to determine how their most precious gift, their children, will be educated?

Seriously. Parents drop-off their children at the “government special brick building” this supposed repository of learning in the morning and entrust some of the most irresponsible people in this society to stuff things into their children’s minds.

There are teachers in my subdivision that don’t even know how to amortize mortgage payments and have absolutely no concept about the devaluation of the dollar. We have one that paid $350K for their home 10 years ago, took $100K worth of debt out to upgrade their house, and think if they get $450K they are break-even. I have to sit down with paper and pencil to show them they would need to get close to $800K to have the same purchasing parity from ten years ago.

This is whom we allow to teach our children?

John Konop June 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm

SOGTP

Most things in life are not so black and white. This is why I am a pragmatist not an ideologue. You might find the below article about the dollar interesting.

Strengthening Dollar

Advantages

Consumer sees lower prices on foreign products/services
Lower prices on foreign products/services help keep inflation low
U.S. consumers benefit when they travel to foreign countries
U.S. investors can purchase foreign stocks/bonds at “lower” prices
Disadvantages

U.S. firms find it hard to compete in foreign markets
U.S. firms must compete with lower priced foreign goods
Foreign tourists find it more expensive to visit U.S.
More difficult for foreign investors to provide capital to U.S. in time of heavy U.S. borrowing

Weakening Dollar

Advantages

U.S. firms find it easier to sell goods in foreign markets
U.S. firms find less competitive pressure to keep prices low
More foreign tourists can afford to visit the U.S.
U.S. capital markets become more attractive to foreign investors

Disadvantages

Consumers face higher prices on foreign products/services
Higher prices on foreign products contribute to higher cost-of-living
U.S. consumers find traveling abroad more costly
Harder for U.S. firms and investors to expand into foreign markets

http://www.wisteme.com/question.view?targetAction=viewQuestionTab&id=5636

SOGTP June 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm

This is true of a centrally planned economic society with little to no free markets.

Here is another way to look at it.

Stable Dollar on a mono or bi-metal standard.

Advantages

$1 in 2011 buys $1 dollar of a basket of goods in 2021.
Consumers realize lower prices on all products/services as competitive forces grow.
Significant deflation of prices for all goods. Absolutely no inflation.
Flows of capital return to the United States to provide wealth and savings to invest in capital, plant, and equipment.

Disadvantages

None

Weakening Dollar

No such thing.

At some point in time people will realize that central economic planning by the Federal reserve with fiat paper currency causes malinvestment and booms/busts. While there were booms then busts in society without the Federal Reserve, it was much less volatile and shorter.

Society as a whole was not harmed by inflation, only those who took great risks were harmed. The damage was left to those who speculated and lost. Now all of us pay as the Federal Reserve prints money to bail-out friends and banks with inflation that destroys our savings.

Cheero

John Konop June 25, 2011 at 3:12 pm

SOGTP,

This way off the topic and we should put this on another thread. The only reason I posted it is to demonstrate like this issue balance is needed. And your argument about the dollar does not hold water because it does not factor the world economy. If you really want to debate this sometime we can do it on another thread or feel free to contact me.

Like Ron Paul it is not that you are wrong about issues like the war, the debt, foreign policy……your cure is always to crash the plan when we could land it or use a parachute.

SOGTP June 26, 2011 at 5:38 am

Next open thread.

Libertarian Chick June 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Come on SOGTP,
Maybe the teacher can’t do math and is excellent at Language or Art or Writing. It is “Who” not whom.

Dem in the Burbs June 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Jeff, I happen to know a lot about the commission charter schools and the litigation over their constitutionality. Despite your claim that a commission charter school “DOES take money directly away from the school system,” the school districts in the lawsuit had absolutely no evidence that they directly or indirectly lost one dime from the opening of a commission charter school. The only court to rule on the funding issue (the trial court) held that the funding was perfectly constitutional.

jeff June 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm

As I stated above, unless you are very familiar with the QBE budget and funding process of Georgia’s local school systems you really don’t understand the effect these decisions by a state charter commission can have on a local school system. I advise you to go talk to the school superintendent in your local system and ask to see the system’s QBE allotment sheet. Let him/her explain to you the process and how it would affect your local school system. Due to several austerity cuts over the last several consecutive year, school systems in Georgia are already strapped and really don’t need a commission in Atlanta making a decision that would take more funding away from their system. Especially if that commission doesn’t have any interest or ties to the local community and don’t really know the needs of that local community. If the local system decides on their own to approve charter schools, great! As I said above, several systems have already opened charter schools with great success in areas of need. A handful of local systems have also elected to convert entirely to charter status. It is the local systems job to make the decisions they feel will best serve their population.

Dem in the Burbs June 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Jeff, I have been knee deep in QBE funding and allocation sheets for the last two years (all of which, by the way, you can find with about 5 clicks on the DOE webpage). I am well aware of commission school and local school district funding. The commission had no impact on per remaining student funding whatsoever. Yes, it is true that state funding per remaining student decreased as a result of the charter commission schools (which is, of course, permitted because the state can spend its money as it wants), but local school funding per student increased by the exact same amount. Therefore, there was literally no impact on per student funding for those students who remained in the local school.

While it might otherwise be true that the local school systems should serve their populations, the simple fact is the legislature felt the local school districts had not been doing their job and therefore created the commission to create charter schools.

jeff June 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Again, go talk with your local school superintendent. Ask him/her to explain the whole QBE process to you. Ask him to explain to you how funding isn’t tied only to instruction but also to maintenance/operation, transportation, nutrition, etc… Ask him/her about the charter system line item at the bottom of the QBE allotment sheet. Not only are these systems losing the per FTE money for the students who leave but they are also losing money from the QBE bottom line via the charter system line item at the bottom. It isn’t near as simple as state funding simply following the students to whatever school they wish to attend.

jeff June 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm

http://app.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/qbe_reports.public_menu?p_fy=2000

Search for the Calhoun County FY2011 QBE allotment sheet. Look at the bottom:

TOTAL STATE FUNDING ON THIS ALLOTMENT SHEET – 3,303,446
Charter Commission Local Revenue – (-267,818)

They are losing over 8% of their QBE allotment because the charter commission approved a charter school in their system. For that same school Early County is losing almost $50,000, Baker County is losing almost $55,000, Clay County is losing over $56,000, and Randolph County is almost $135,000. Total that one charter school is costing surrounding counties over $560,000 from the bottom line of their QBE funding. That number is on top of what they are losing with lower FTE counts.

That may not sound like alot of money to systems like Gwinnet, Cobb, etc… but for small rural systems in that area of the state it is a huge hit to their budgets. For a commission in Atlanta, that probably knows nothing about those communities, to make a decision that important doesn’t make any sense and is simply wrong.

Dem in the Burbs June 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Jeff, again, I know all about this. We represented the three commission charter schools in the lawsuit that the Supreme Court decided. Like I said before, all of the money to fund commission charter schools was state money, and the state could do what it wanted to with the money. Implicit in your argument is that the schools are entitled to a certain amount of state funding. State funding varies by district and by year and local districts are not entitled to any level of state funding (now more than ever after the Supreme Court’s decision). The funding for the commission schools had exactly no impact on local charter schools.

Here is a copy of the brief we filed in the trial court:

http://www.cpoga.org/img/motion_01_14_2010.pdf

Read pages 55 through 58, 63 through 68 of the PDF (pages 52-55 and 60 through 65 of the brief). This lays out in very specific detail three different examples to show that the commission schools had no impact whatsoever on funding for remaining students.

Despite numerous opportunities to do so, the seven school districts in the lawsuit could never once prove that they lost any money directly or indirectly as a result of the opening of commission charter schools.

But, this discussion is academic now that the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision.

SOGTP June 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

How about this plan.

The county sends you an invoice itemized for the cost of police, fire, schools, administration, roads, etc, every January rather than steal from you with property taxes.

Please then write a check each year for these services. This way they can be alerted to the costs of each item and potentially protest. Likewise, if you fail to pay they send it to a conventional collection agency rather than seize your home and sell it to collect $3,000.

What do you think? Actually I would prefer if the elementary school sent the invoice to the parents for the cost of educating their children. Then the parents can complain or insist that their children learn.

When I was a kid my parents (mother) sat with me every night to ensure I got through my homework. In the summer my grandfather and mother assigned me books to read and I would have to write a book report. lols … the first book report when I was eight (8) Bob Feller. First 100 mph fast ball – Cleveland Indians.

Rambler1414 June 27, 2011 at 9:01 am

“steal from you with property taxes”
Seriously?
Steal?

How would you justify the additional amount of “bureaucratic” work needed to break about your 1 bill into 15 bills each year? Talk about a waste of effort.

benevolus June 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm

It was so nice back in 1790.

Harry June 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm

For the most part, I agree. Can you imagine how great it must have been to live in the new and free republic?

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