Taxpayers Not Left Holding The Bag When Charter Schools Close

September 11, 2012 9:00 am

by Buzz Brockway · 138 comments

Our friend John Konop has been engaging in a discussion with the Cherokee School Board about the proposed charter school amendment and his opposition to it. Never one to miss an opportunity to report on opposition to the charter amendment, the AJC’s Maureen Downey has taken note of Konop’s discussions and posted it on her blog a couple of times in July and then again yesterday.

Konop’s most recent letter to Cherokee School Board Member Michael Geist questions him about his support for the charter amendment:

If the CCA goes out of business — which looks increasingly likely — its owner/operators get to keep the $1 million start-up capital (and/or whatever assets they bought with it) and have no liabilities. You supported giving a private company over a million dollars, guaranteed profit, and NO downside risk.

This is a terrible deal for taxpayers. You should NOT support forcing taxpayers to capitalize private companies or give them no-obligation government contracts. As a public school board member, your duty is to protect the school’s assets, not look for creative ways to squander them.

CCA, or Cherokee Charter Academy, was denied by Cherokee County Schools and given funding from the State Board of Education last year. I don’t know where the $1 million in “start-up capital” came from. It wasn’t Cherokee County and it wasn’t the State of Georgia. Consequently, I can’t comment on whether or not that money could be recovered should CCA close it’s doors. That would be based upon the conditions placed upon CCA by the entity giving them that money. As best i can tell, charter schools don’t often receive taxpayer funded start-up capital. Also, charter schools don’t have “no obligation government contracts” they have a charter which describes what their responsibilities are. Additionally, the charter school amendment is in no way “forcing taxpayers to capitalize private companies.” Some charter schools hire management companies some do not. Traditional public schools sign contracts with private companies to provide services too. Are they “forcing taxpayers to capitalize private companies?” Of course not.

Finally, the assertion made that taxpayers are left holding the bag if a charter school fails isn’t accurate. O.C.G.A. 20-2-2089 clearly states:

If a charter is not renewed or is terminated, the commission charter school shall be responsible for all debts of such charter school. The local school system may not assume the debt from any contract for services made between the governing body of the commission charter school and a third party, except for a debt for which the local school system has agreed upon in writing to assume responsibility.

Additionally, State BOE rules describe what happens to the money when a charter school closes:

Upon termination of the charter for a local charter school all assets and unencumbered funds of the terminated local charter school remaining after liabilities have been satisfied shall revert to the local board(s). Upon termination of the charter for a state chartered special school, all assets and unencumbered funds of the state-chartered special school shall revert to the Department.

O.C.G.A. and the State BOE rules describe the reasons a charter school’s charter can be revoked. You don’t have to wait until the end of the charter term to close a poorly run or irresponsible charter school.

To say taxpayers are at risk if charter schools are created isn’t accurate, unless the local school system voluntarily agrees to take on the charter school’s debts. The charter applicants take the risk for leases, management contracts, and whatever other obligations they make, not the taxpayers.

There is plenty of financial and academic oversight of charter schools in current law and in the proposed charter amendment.

Nixonstheone September 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

Don’t confuse them with FACTS

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 10:25 am

What happens to outstanding debts if the local system doesn’t agree to the liability?

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

The people who hold the charter are responsible.

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 10:31 am

I honestly did not know that and would be interested to hear Konop say why this is a bad deal. So do they incorporate and the debts would be handled through bankruptcy just like any other entity?

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

I suppose it would be handled via a bankruptcy. The point is John is saying the taxpayers are on the hook and clearly they are not.

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

John?

I admit that I still have problems with this amendment but this was easily the biggest ones. If the taxpayers are really insulated, it would go a long way towards convincing me to switch my vote.

But given that you and your brothers and sisters, Rep. Brockway, have to vote to allow a city to form a Parks & Rec Dept, because ultimate liability for bonds fall back on the state, I have a hard time believing it’s that simple.

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 10:43 am

But charter schools don’t sell bonds and the only funding they get from the state or local school board is the per student funding. Out of that money they obtain a building and run their school. They sign the lease and if they choose a management contract so they’re responsible to abide by the terms of whatever contract they sign.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 10:50 am

In Cherokee county the mangament contracts guarantess close to 1 million dollars a year in profits for the private company with no penalities for lack of fullfillment . Also it has no restrictions on ownership of the proberty by the private company, which is gauaranteed a million dollars a year. Also the school got free tax payer money on top of this for start-up cost. Any way you slice it this is crony capitalism.

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 10:57 am

So the only funding is the per student funding? Where does the rest go? Can they really finance an entire school, including the capital investments required, with just that? If not, do the applicants raise private equity?

Sorry if these questions have been answered before but I need to be clear on the funding streams and am approaching it like I would a start up. And the big sticking point for me here is this is starting a new school ( maybe not in Cherokee but will be elsewhere ). Creating this type of “business”, for lack of a better word, requires tremendous upfront capital.

Also, what are the potential impacts of the local district if it fails? The money goes back into the pot, I assume. How are the students re-assimilated?

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

Grift,

In the Cherokee Charter situation they were given free tax payer money from a grant for start-up cost from what I read. What I am saying is this should have been in the form of a loan with a personal guarantee and off set rights against their million dollar a year fee they get off the top of the per pupil funding if they go out of business. Why would anyone be against this?

If a school cannot fulfill the contracts they should forfeit the million dollar yearly fee. Also they should have some form of guarantee to fulfill the school year if they have a material amount of students. Why would anyone be against this?

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 11:13 am

Where did the grant come from?

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 11:14 am

Nevermind. Came from the state. I found it.

More thoughts in a minute.

Calypso September 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

Buzz, what do you say to grift’s assertion the grant came from the state?

In your original post you said, “I don’t know where the $1 million in “start-up capital” came from. It wasn’t Cherokee County and it wasn’t the State of Georgia.”

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

What I found is it was 625k over two years.

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 11:41 am

Calypso,

If that’s the case I stand corrected.

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 11:27 am

Yes charters can raise private money as can public schools. There is money out there from businesses and foundations to support charter schools.

Financial viability is a big issue when considering a charter application. That’s why the State Charter School Commission only approved 16 out of 83 applications while it was in operation. Applicants must show they have the ability to raise outside finds or operate on the money they will receive.

Most charter schools aren’t as big as CCA. Ivy Prep in Norcross is about 500 students. About 350 come from Gwinnett and 150 from Dekalb. God forbid Ivy Prep fail, Dekalb and Gwinnett would have no problem assimilating those students. Cherokee would have no problem assimilating the students from CCA ethier.

What opponents often forget is that we have a track record to look at here in Georgia. We know what we’re going to do because we were doing it before the Supreme Court threw it out.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 11:34 am

This was tax payer money……………It was free money not a loan.

……..Cherokee Charter Academy, along with a several other charter schools throughout the state, secured a one-time funding grant from Gov. Deal, which helped the school to open its doors for the 2011-12 school year…………

http://cherokeetribune.com/view/full_story/18439189/article-Gov–Deal-to-sign-bill-at-charter-academy

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 11:40 am

And how is that a bad thing? Those schools must live by the terms of the charter they signed.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

Buzz,

You are for a private company getting free seed capital to bid on government work with a gauaranteed profit and no penalties for fullfillment?

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

John. I see your point, but isn’t the funding issue severable from the commission issue?

In other words, the mistake here ( if there was one ) was in the approval of the grant, which could have happened whether Cherokee approved the school or the state approved the schoo?

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 11:44 am

“What opponents often forget is that we have a track record to look at here in Georgia. We know what we’re going to do because we were doing it before the Supreme Court threw it out”

That’s a really good point.

But given the Governor signed the thing at Cherokee Academy, I think we know which way the political winds blow on that one. Given the number of questions around that school that worries me.

So Buzz, given this specific example, why should I not worry about an additional government agency playing favorites ( or crony capitalism as John might put it ). The local school board is accountable directly to the people in the district. The Charter Commission has several layers between it and the people it directly effects.

I’ve seen all the pretzel logic being used to justify this as “local control” but given the scenario here, I don’t see how that enhances “local control”. To me, it’s giving a very select group of locals another agency to go to and that agency would have quite a bit of power to play favorites ( and lord knows, this takes us down the path of religious academies )

Calypso September 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm

“I’ve seen all the pretzel logic being used to justify this as “local control” but given the scenario here, I don’t see how that enhances “local control”. To me, it’s giving a very select group of locals another agency to go to and that agency would have quite a bit of power to play favorites ( and lord knows, this takes us down the path of religious academies )”

THIS^^^

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Charter schools have to be governed by a local Board. I think that’s pretty good local control. Not sure if that’s the pretzel logic you are referring to. :-)

I’ll have more to say on the history of charter school in Georgia at a later date but basically many people, myself included, want to see local school boards open to and working with good charter applicants. To accomplish that you need pressure and that pressure is through the ability of charter applicants to apply with the State charter commission should they be denied by their local system. Charter schools will receive more money from local school boards than they will from the State so there is an incentive to work together.

We had a system that encouraging local systems to create good charter schools and it was working until the Supreme Court threw it out. During the period HB881 was in effect, local systems created over 100 charter schools while the State approved 16 of the 83 applications they received. A few of those State approved schools cover multiple jurisdictions, such as the Statewide online academy and it would be a real shame if those schools went away.

Article VIII of the Georgia Constitution says that providing for an adequate public education is a primary obligation of the State of Georgia. We’re not doing that now and I think that interest trumps the idea of absolute local control.

bowersville September 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Charter schools will receive more money from local school boards than they will from the State so there is an incentive to work together.

I see that differently. It’s an incentive for cash strapped BOE’s to punt the cost to the state.

And while we’re on money. Are charter school teachers public employees or are they employees of the private company operating the charter school?

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 10:40 am

I would require the following:

1) If a charter school gets up front money tax payer money via grants……it should be in the form of a loan that has a personal guarantee with off sets against the management fees. This is standard procedure for business loans in the private sector ie even SBA loans………

2) If the Charter school has a material amount of students some form of penalty should be in place to guarantee a school year. Small charter school should be exempt, this is to put controls in places like Cherokee charter that has close to 1000 students. You realize mid-year close would put a real strain in the system

3) If the state or county wants to take over the charter school that failed by companies like Charter USA, they should not have any rights to their fees.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

For Clarification:

Some Charter were giving up front money for start-up cost above the amount they get for students.

Mark Peevy September 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm

For further clarification:

I was the ED of the Charter School Commission when CCA was approved, so I can shed some light on the issue.
The $625k that Cherokee Charter Academy received for start-up costs were from a Federal Implementation grant (not the State of Georgia) that is available to all charter schools (whether they are approved by the Charter Commission or their Local BOE). The program is administered by the Ga DOE’s Charter School Division and is run as a reimbursable grant program. The DOE ensures that all of the start-up funds are spent on true start-up costs (books, classroom furniture, computers, etc), and the funds are distributed to the non-profit Board (in this case, the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation) that holds the charter for the school (and not the management company). All items purchased w/ the grant are property of the Governing Board/School ( not the management company) and would revert back to the State if/when the school ever lost its charter.

As for the management fee, the charter contract requires that CSUSA can only take its fee after all obligations are paid for the school itself. This provision actually caused CSUSA to forfeit its management fee during the first year of operation. The funds are all controlled by the local non-profit governing Board, and CSUSA is paid as any other vendor would be with the available funds.

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

John,

Obviously there is nothing I can say to change your mind. You oppose this amendment and that’s your right. Perhaps the suggestions you make are good ones but they are not part of this amendment. However, as I’ve shown, the taxpayers are not on the hook when a charter fails. There is plenty of financial and academic oversight of charter schools, both approved by local school boards as well as those approved by the Charter School Commission should the amendment pass.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

Buzz,

As a tax payer I should not be concerned about the close to 1 million dollars of grant money? Also if the school fails and is run by Charter USA you think they should get their fees, if the state or county wants to keep it open? BTW from waht I read Charter USA did demand their fees in a failed school that the county wanted to keep open. Is that not rewarding failure?

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

There are a number of problems with what you’re doing John.

1) You’ve been quizzing Cherokee Schools about a charter they rejected. Of course they have a negative opinion of CCA. You should talk to the State school board about this since they approved it. They reviewed the relationship with Charters USA and found it to be OK.
2) Our enabling legislation, HB797, will require management companies to be Georgia based. Thus, unless Charters USA wants to relocate here CCA will have to do something different in the future.
3) Obviously if a school goes bankrupt the contract is void. You’re throwing out so many hypotheticals it’s hard to keep up.
4) A grant is a grant and CCA must abide by the terms of that grant.
5) Are you saying you want to break a contract signed by the charter school and have the government recover fees paid for services rendered in the past? What about teacher salaries? Should those be recovered too? That seems very unfair.
6) With all the stipulations you want and the ability to break a contract and take back money, nobody is going to want to work with a charter school. You are essentially killing all charter schools.

I believe you when you say you support charter schools but you’ve gone down a really long rabbit trail here.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

Buzz,

As a tax payer I am very suspicious of both parties. I was told by Obama we needed Solar energy and we all lost 500 million via lack of controls on government financing of private ventures. I was told in my county we needed a recycling plant 50 million lost on private venture. Charter schools across the country and Georgia have gone out of business and tax payers have taking losses. Sorry, but I work hard for money and I am merely asking for officeholders to treat my tax dollars is a fiscally conservative manner. The government track record from both parties speaks volumes…….

As I said, I support alternative energy, recycling and charter schools. I just want it done in a fiscally rational manner that puts the private company at way more risk than tax payers. Is that really asking too much?

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 11:58 am

But John, isn’t the problem here the start up capital and its source which in this case was the state? Not the existence or non-existence of the state commission?

I agree that how these schools obtain start up capital is a huge issue. But now that Buzz has explained, I’m having hard to understanding how this issue wouldn’t exist, commission or no commission.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Grift,

As I said I am not against charter schools, I am against the lack of controls in the bill.

As I said I would require the following:

1) If a charter school gets up front money outside of per pupil allotment , tax payer money via grants……it should be in the form of a loan that has a personal guarantee with off sets against the management fees. This is standard procedure for business loans in the private sector ie even SBA loans………

2) If the Charter school has a material amount of students some form of penalty should be in place to guarantee a school year. Small charter school should be exempt, this is to put controls in places like Cherokee charter that has close to 1000 students. You realize mid-year close would put a real strain in the system

3) If the state or county wants to take over the charter school that failed by companies like Charter USA, they should not have any rights to their fees.

Am I really asking for too much?

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm

No. You have a point. And those are valid concerns. But couldn’t those be written into the rules for the commission?

I’m with Buzz on this aspect. I don’t see how those are relevant to the question of “should the state have the ability to set up a commission that overrides the decision of a local school board”.

Safeguards should be put in place, commission or no commission.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Grift,

I want some real rules in place first. We already know without real rules we tax payers will get left holding the bag. Do you really trust them to be in controls?

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Sorry,

Do you really trust them to put in proper controls?

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm

We’re a bit into the technical weeds here, John. But technically, you can’t make the rules for the commission before it exist. The amendment just makes it Constitutional. Now whether or not there is a need for the commission or not is a completely different argument.

My point is, your safeguards are needed, commission or not. But that’s not the question of the amendment. The question of the amendment is should the commission exist.

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm

The State DOE has rules for charter schools which can be read on their website. There are State laws governing charter schools as well in an around the code section I mentioned in my original post. You can also read the enabling legislation for the proposed amendment in HB797.

With all due respect to John, I get the feeling no amount or rules, laws, or regulations will be enough for him to support this amendment. As I’ve said before, there are adequate financial and academic guidelines and plenty of oversight for charter schools, those started by local school boards as well as those we hope to start via the charter school commission.

I’ll put my thoughts together about why I think we need this amendment soon.

griftdrift September 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm

That would be appreciated, Buzz. Although you’ve comforted me on the financial implications. You’ve still not convinced me on the need.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm

In all due respect my good friend Buzz, I am old school lender, financials can tell many stories, a personal guarantee, pledging assets……tell me how much skin they really have in the game. But hey you guys are playing with tax payers money not your own.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

If I think that the computer systems are bad in my school system, I should be able to get grant money from the government for free, paid by tax payers, and get a no obligation, nor penalty contract that pays me a million dollars a year off the top for attempting to provide the service. How many people think this financial structure makes any sense for tax payers and if so why?

Mike Hassinger September 12, 2012 at 9:22 am

Oh, I don’t know. Why don’t you ask the folks running the DeKalb School system?

saltycracker September 11, 2012 at 10:33 am

I’m much more concerned with how the funding calculations are made. The local districts have a lot of obligations and absence of choices put on them by the state & Feds that charters don’t have. Reading Sen. Rogers comments Charters may benefit by getting funding out of relationship with the districts cost per child. Money following the child is a red herring.

If the public districts are shorted, the edu-crats will punish our children to protect their interests before they remodel their educational approach or change their bureaucratic, heavy on administration, early out pensions and personnel policies.

I have a lot of issues with public schools but prematurely crushing them doesn’t help the public school children. So we continue to choose sides ?

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

We discussed how charter are funded here.

ryanhawk September 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Good post Buzz.

Anyone interested in fiscal responsibility should know that State Sponsored Charter Schools will operate at much less expense than will traditional public schools. If the average public school spends 10k per student, the savings will be in the range of 3.5 k per student.

Additionally, anyone who supports such onerous requirements as bonds and personal guaranties is not a friend of the charter movement. JK can call himself a supporter of charters if he likes, but the people he is really helping are those who want to perpetuate the failed status quo that subjects students in some jurisdictions to schools that no one should be required to attend and no taxpayer should be required to finance.

Hardly September 11, 2012 at 3:32 pm

ryanhawk (revised): Anyone who rejects fiscal controls such as bonds and personal guarantees is not a friend of Georgia taxpayers.

dorian September 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm

+1 Hardly

ryanhawk September 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

@hardly: What exactly is it about 35% reduction in cost per student for a better quality education that Georgia taxpayers should be concerned about? I’d really like to know. Do you understand the funding mechanism for State sponsored charter schools that will be in effect going forward?

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Not sure about your math?

……..Georgia will send more state money per child to state charter schools and that budget cuts are not applied to those charter schools. ……..

……The QBE formula gives money to schools based on each student and “indirect” costs, such as administration. Georgia requires local systems to pay an amount equal to five mills of property tax generated within their taxing authority for those educational costs within the school district.

Downey asked state Education Department spokesman Matt Cardoza to review Garrett’s claim that state charter schools will receive more money per pupil under the new formula.

His answer: “I’ve confirmed that those numbers are correct. Our financial review team ran the numbers based on what the legislation says.”…

http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2012/sep/11/herb-garrett/charter-school-funding-claim-hits-close-mark/

ryanhawk September 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm

And how much LOCAL money will schools approved by the proposed state charter commission receive? The total amount received by newly approved charter schools will be much less than your average public school receives and this represents significant savings to taxpayers.

I don’t know if you are just badly confused or being intentionally dishonest, but it’s one or the other.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I am just posting facts. If you facts from a real source post it. Are you accusing the Georgia Education Department of lying? This is all controlled by the GOP.

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Downey and Garrett added 2 and 2 and got 8.

Buzz Brockway September 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm

John,

I dealt with the inaccuracies in Garrett’s letter here.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Buzz,

If I recall this debate right it had to do with also taking into consideration cost of special needs students( 11 percent public schools verse a very low rate for charter),transportation cost that charters do not provide……. I think that is what was used to equalize the cost for comparison by the Georgia Department of Education.

Mark Peevy September 11, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Here’s some good insight on the math from the Governor’s office:

“First, state special charter schools have received their share of austerity reductions. They have and will receive any reductions made to the K-12 funding formula just like any other public school.

Second, information sent to local school superintendents claimed that charter schools receive more funding than traditional public schools. As you all know, no local tax money flows to state special charter schools. Local school superintendents and board members were adamantly opposed to any local dollars going to charter schools that were denied by a local school board and, after extensive debate, the final version of HB 797 was negotiated to ensure that this was the case. The additional state dollars included in the HB 797 funding formula are intended to partially offset the loss of local dollars when a charter application is denied by a local school board.

To put this in context, the funding formula results in an average $5,546 per student amount for state special charters, while the state-local average for traditional schools is $8,993. These numbers are preliminary averages and actual figures will vary slightly by district and may change somewhat as a result of the midterm adjustment. However, the fact remains that these schools operate without local dollars so while their state funds appear higher they will receive only 62 percent of the total amount spent in traditional public schools.”

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/08/14/governors-deputy-charters-still-operate-with-less-funds-than-traditional-schools/

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Mark,

In all due respect, you did not factor the cost of educating students by age . As you know 7th to 12 th grade cost way more that elementary education. And most charter do not service older kids. Also I saw nothing for special needs and transportation.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 10:54 am

And most charter do not service older kids. Also I saw nothing for special needs and transportation.

Most tradition public schools don’t service older kids either.
Cherokee County SD:
25 elementary schools
7 middle schools
9 high schools

Special Needs – see GSNS scholarships. Charters (including CCA also take them.

Transportation – 2010 cost $375 per student.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

In all due respect it would be the number of students not number of schools. And most private schools charge from 33% to 50% more for a high school education. Also they charge more for a junior high schools as well verse elementary. On a weighted basis per student combined with transportation and special needs this would be a material amount.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

In all due respect it would be the number of students not number of schools.

I agree, but I am responding to your statement, “And most charter do not service older kids,” which referred to “most charter[s]” as opposed to “number of older kids in charters”.

I applied the cost differential in my comment below.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 11:39 am

One more thing the issue is not if Cherokee charter takes special needs kids it the amount as a ratio and the cost per kid. They do not take the most expensive special needs kids to service and not even close to the 11% ratio public schools take.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Do you have any actual info to quantify those statements?

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Not only do we not have the exact number, we have never even seen the contract with Charter USA. The Charter school punted on releasing financial data from what I hear this year so for. Do you not think the contract should be available posted for all tax payers to see?

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

“They do not take the most expensive special needs kids to service and not even close to the 11% ratio public schools take.”

“Most charter schools require that parents submit an application. The application may require information regarding contact information, residency, and grade level. The application to a charter school should NEVER include information that screens applicants such as: prior test data, letters of recommendation or special services,/b>, gender, race, or language spoken at home. ”

“Charter schools, as public schools, must adhere to the same open admission and enrollment standards as traditional public schools.”

Do charter schools serve students with special needs?
Yes. Charter schools, as public schools, are required to comply with IDEA and section 504. ”

Do charter schools provide special education services?
Yes, charter schools are required by federal law to offer and provide services for students with disabilities. ”

Source: http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/Frequently-Asked-Questions-for-Parents-and-Community.aspx

Can you provide information showing that “they do not take the most expensive special needs kids” or that they do not take “even close to the 11% ratio public schools take.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Do you not think the contract should be available posted for all tax payers to see?

Yes, but that’s not enough for me to ignore the benefits they provide through additional choices. I would prefer private school vouchers, but at this point I’ll take what I can get.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

mpierce,

Why cannot Cherokee Charter demonstrate that they take 11 percent special needs and have the most expensive kids at the same ratio as the public schools? Why can we not see the contract with Charter USA?

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Why cannot Cherokee Charter demonstrate that they take 11 percent special needs and have the most expensive kids at the same ratio as the public schools?

Taking the Harry Reid approach? Make up facts and declare that they deemed true a la Romney’s taxes?

It does have the same ratio as a public school by definition. It is a public school. Do you have break downs of the other individual public schools in Cherokee County?

While I think that the contract should be public; I don’t see, given the overall cost savings, that it commands the importance you place upon it.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Once again you have not demonstrated the savings to tax payers.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Once again you have not demonstrated the savings to tax payers.

I believe most following this would disagree. And I’m confident more people would say I’ve made a better case that there are savings than you have made the case that there aren’t.

Also you have failed to show that CCA will not take special needs children. If they were denying people on that basis, don’t you think there would be stories about it and discrimination lawsuits all over the place? Have you backed up your assertions with any actual data (I will stipulate the 11% special needs in CCSD)? Where are your numbers and analysis?

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Must who owns or runs a business would disagree with your math. But hey you can drink the Kool-aid!

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Again, show me your conflicting data and analysis, if you can.

Mark Peevy September 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm

John,

The State QBE formula actually uses a standard 9th grade student as the basis for its funding level (i.e., it has a factor of 1). The formula then has different factors for different kinds of students. Using the State’s formula, elementary students receive more money from the state, with high school students being at the lowest end of the earning scale.

John Konop September 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Mark,

In all due respect that seems illogical. Private schools charge more for high school. I did some modeling on a private school and the cost were way higher for high schools via ratios, equipment, teachers especially higher level math and science…….grade school simple model 1 teacher X amount of students.

I was basically forced into this roll when my family moved to Georgia years. We put are oldest into a private school and a month or two into the school year they were going bk and old board bolted….. After building a model with a CPA we presented to the board that the only way the school would survive was if we closed the middle school and high school. Long story short it was not received well from the board and we barely made it through the year. The headmaster at the end apologized to me and told he wished he would listen to some of us via the numbers……He claimed he would learn from this and keep tighter ratios in the future.

mpierce September 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

FY13 QBE funding formula weights:
K: 1.6611
1-3: 1.2866
4-5: 1.0327
6-8: 1.1221
9-12: 1.0000

mpierce September 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Correction (where is the modify feature?)
6-8: 1.0166

Dr. Monica Henson September 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I’ve been puzzling on this since I saw Maureen’s post of John’s questions to the Cherokee County BOE. Mainly, I’ve been trying to figure out where the “free money” reference came from.

My state-chartered school, Provost Academy Georgia, received the identical implementation grant, $600,000 over two years. We applied to the State BOE, and the funds were made available to GA from the U.S. Department of Education. As Mark describes, we will receive those funds on a reimbursement basis and there are strict guidelines as to how the funds can be spent. That’s not “free money” going to us or our partner, EdisonLearning, just as the CCA grant isn’t “free money” going to CCA or Charter Schools USA. If the funds are misappropriated, then the schools’ boards are liable.

District public schools apply for state and federal grants all the time. They may not spend the money wisely or as taxpayers believe it should be spent. If they don’t spend it according to the guidelines of the specific grant program, then they may be required to repay the funds to the issuing body. That would be the case with a charter public school as well.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Dr. Henson,

In all due respect this was pre opening money for Cherokee Charter. Also Charter USA makes about 1 million dollar a year in a fee paid by tax payers. Now that money could of come out of the million dollar fee per year rather than tax payers. Since Cherokee Charter used tax payers money instead, than one can only conclude they pocketed the money. And if the school goes out of business they do not owe the money back from the million dollars a year fee they make from tax payers.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Btw many republicans have made the same point about defunding Planned Parenthood, accusing them of playing a shell game where tax payers money ends up.

Dr. Monica Henson September 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm

“If I think that the computer systems are bad in my school system, I should be able to get grant money from the government for free, paid by tax payers, and get a no obligation, nor penalty contract that pays me a million dollars a year off the top for attempting to provide the service.”

In fact, John, there is not a single thing preventing you as a vendor, or as a concerned citizen, from approaching a school district and offering to help them write a grant to fund the purchase of technology. You may or may not contract with them to be paid for writing the grant. If they win the grant and choose to purchase the machines from you, there is nothing illegal about that. Your contract is not with the government or private funder that provides the grant funds–it’s with the school system.

I honestly don’t understand what you are up in arms about.

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I never said that the above transaction is illegal, it is just rather insulting to entrepuenors like me who take risk to make money. Do you understand how getting a contract with up front money paid by tax payers for start up and being guaranteed a million dollar a year profit from tax payers with no penalties for fulfillment is insulting to a private business person?

John Konop September 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm

One more thing, in the private sector we do sign personal guarantees, bonding, no free start up capital………. Why should a private mangement company making millions off tax payers be exempt from this and instead tax payers take the risk?

ryanhawk September 12, 2012 at 7:56 am

John — The vast majority of private sector transactions take place without either a bond or personal guaranty. There are many other remedies that suffice when a market transaction goes awry. These devices are employed in high risk situations where there is a substantial likelihood of default or failure to perform and where failures may be difficult to discern in a timely manner. They are very costly to provide and wholly inappropriate in an environment where the state is attempting to encourage innovation and where the primary risk is the continued failure of the status quo.

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 10:16 am

Ryan,

Bottom line you would have a very difficult time finding people in the finance world to agree with you. The vast majority of business loans do have personal guarantees and especially a start up. Bonding or other forms of security are standard operating procedures for risk based transactions. The government should not been in the business of turning blind eye to the risk of tax payers money, just to encourage an industry.

ryanhawk September 13, 2012 at 8:40 am

We are not talking about a loan John but rather payment for services. And bonds or personal guaranties are very rare in that market whether you are counting the number or dollar volume of transactions. This whole conversation is a gigantic distraction which I suppose is your point.

Buzz Brockway September 12, 2012 at 7:51 am

John,

Making the same inaccurate statements over and over doesnt make them true. Charter schools are public school. The teachers are public employees and the students are public school students. When and if a charter school receives a grant it is to educate their public school students. Traditional public schools receive grants, will you require them to sign personal guarantees?

As Dr.Henson pointed out there are rules to these grants and if they don’t follow the rules people get in trouble, serious trouble.

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 8:04 am

Buzz,

You can call it whatever you want. When a private company gets a million dollar fee off the top on a yearly basis it is a private venture. This private company can also own the real-estate and make extra money paying their private company the rent. I am not saying all charter schools run this way. I am just for putting in rules that make sure that this is not just another deal we tax payers get left holding the bag. Do you really think the controls I am asking for is too much? Do I really need to list of all the private/public deals like this that tax payers got screwed on?

I do know we have some great people who put their heart and soul into running a public/charter school. But if private companies get involved we need rules to make sure the follow the same guidelines the rest of us do in the real world.

Buzz Brockway September 12, 2012 at 8:12 am

Is every dollar you receive in your business profit? Charter USA receives payment for services rendered. They have costs associated with the services they provide.

I’ve explained several times and provided links showing that there is plenty of oversight in current law and in the enabling legislation. I’ve also said that the restrictions you want to place on these schools are overburdensom and will make it much more difficult if not impossible for ANY charter school to operate.

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 8:20 am

Buzz,

What you are saying is that a private company making money off a charter school should get “special treatment” ? This is the trap both parties fall into, the government should be in the business of creating special rules to pick winners and losers. As I said this was the same excuse I hear from both sides when the deal blows up.

Buzz Brockway September 12, 2012 at 7:57 am

One more things John, do you realize that if this amendment doesn’t pass Provost Academy will likely be shut down as will the online academy? Schools like those need the state to be able to authorize charter schools because no local school board can authorize a statewide school and the supreme court says they are not special schools and thus are illegal.

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 8:15 am

Buzz,

I have been advocating for a flexible home school/ on line public education interwoven in a way that students have access to extra curricular activities and or classes they want to take in the school. I told you I would support the amendment if the proper controls are put in place. I do think that Dr. Henson teaching model should be part of the options…. In fact I am working in my own county to expand this option with the school and home school parents. In tough times we all need to work together to be as efficient as possible while improving quality.

LynCarden September 12, 2012 at 8:58 am

Only in the world of GA politics does a company investing millions IN Georgia public schools gets accused of taking millions out!!
To Konop’s first point:
Any “start-up” capitol being discussed would actually be the Federal Implementation Grant which goes to all start up schools and was actually $620,819 (not over a million). The funds were used to pay for things like desks and books. A GCEF board member sat with the GADOE official and the principal of CCA to review the use of that grant at the end of last year. The expenditures were reviewed line by line.
As a State Chartered Special School CCA receive NO MONEY from the district. The GADOE/State Board of Education is the authorizer to which CCA (and all state charter schools) are under a performance contract. Mr. Konop clearly lacks the facts and understanding of the authorization and accountability process.
As to his second point:
CSUSA receives a payment for services delivered – that is called a management fee. This fiscal year that fee is budgeted to be $891,848 equating to approximately 11% of budgeted revenue. The national average for EMOs varies but a typical rate is between 10-15%. Some EMOs charge more (upwards of 17-20%) and some less (5-7%) but for the most part, the 10-15% is the range.
Having said that, many large EMOs try (and succeed) to do what is called a “sweep agreement” which means they take all revenue that remains after the school’s annual expenditures are complete (including their management fee). Some companies request all revenues as a gross management fee but promise to reserve 2% of the state revenue for the school. CSUSA, one of the two educational management companies with schools in Cherokee County is one of the few that will only charge their management fee (approximately 11%) after ALL expenditures are covered and will donate to the school if it cannot be made whole with the revenue the school generates.
Last year in Cherokee County not only did Charter Schools USA not take a fee, they donated over a million dollars to ensure Cherokee Charter Academy was financially whole at the end of the year. This was due to the uncertainty of particular funding streams for state chartered special schools; however, the management company (CSUSA) was aware that the school was going to be in a deficit situation and made the decision they would rather take the financial hit themselves than impact what was happening in the classroom.
Only in the world of GA politics does a company investing millions IN Georgia public schools gets accused of taking millions out!!
EMOs (Educational Management Organizations) and CMOs (Charter Management Organization) can operate in several ways. They can offer a variety of services to a school. These can be back-end HR, or offer curriculum and schools can choose al-a-carte services. Other EMOs offer what is called a whole management agreement where the operation of the school is handled by the EMO and oversight is the responsibility of the board. This is the arrangement the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation has with Charter Schools USA.
CSUSA is responsible to everything from HR & finance (ensuring the bills and teachers get paid, the budget is correct, the lights stay on and staffing oversight) to curriculum and education (writing the curriculum, getting the proper text books, making sure the model is properly delivered, coordinating and/or delivering teacher training and almost everything in between) to compliance (ensuring the proper paper work gets to the GADOE and Federal in a timely manner, making sure we are meeting requirement and standards, making sure the building and kids are safe), to facilities (assisting in the identification of the building we eventually moved into, assisting in the negotiation with the lender and ensuring the facility is in compliance) to everything in between. The GCEF board is responsible for oversight (ensuring those things are properly executed) and CSUSA is responsible for everything else.
The budget and financials are approved by both the Local Governing Council (LGC) of the school and the GCEF and CSUSA can only spend within those guidelines. Monthly reports are provided to both governing entities as well as the provision of an annual audit.
As to Konop’s final point:
The final point is ridiculous but for argument’s sake let us indulge him for a moment. First and foremost it would be illegal for them to ‘take the money and run’ which is Konop’s implication. There is a management contract in place outlining appropriate “separation” process and procedure in the event that either party decides to walk away – if there would ever be a separation, it would never happen mid-year as it would breach the management contract.
As a matter of sheer business there is no way CSUSA could/would “take the money and run.” CSUSA is a national operator working with many boards like GCEF as well as local school districts in turnaround situations – something illegal like “taking the money and running” would kill its business. CSUSA manages over $300M in revenue annually so why would they risk reputation and legal ramifications for the funding Konop calls into question.
Since Konop has a)never spoken to any member of the GCEF board, our principal or EMO, b)never attended one or our meetings, or c)never requested a budget or any information on our school (for that matter) his source for “knowledgeable information” should be called into question. One might assume hearsay which is supported by the fact he went to one of CCA’s parents for his sourcing of information rather than to an official with the school – much the same way the media did when they were covering this story.
Lyn Carden
Georgia Charter Educational Foundation
The charter holder of Cherokee Charter Academy

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

…. The funds were used to pay for things like desks and books….

What else would you call this other than start-up capital? And why should tax payers give you free money to help start a school when the kids already had a school they could attend? Also if you did not spend this money for start-up cost and tax payers paid did, that means you did keep that money?

… Last year in Cherokee County not only did Charter Schools USA not take a fee, they donated over a million dollars to ensure Cherokee Charter Academy was financially whole at the end of the year. This was due to the uncertainty of particular funding streams for state chartered special schools; however, the management company (CSUSA) was aware that the school was going to be in a deficit situation and made the decision they would rather take the financial hit themselves than impact what was happening in the classroom…

As I said you put up one year’s worth of profit to get a contract that pays about a million dollars a year.

……… The final point is ridiculous but for argument’s sake let us indulge him for a moment. First and foremost it would be illegal for them to ‘take the money and run’ which is Konop’s implication. There is a management contract in place outlining appropriate “separation” process and procedure in the event that either party decides to walk away – if there would ever be a separation, it would never happen mid-year as it would breach the management contract……..

True or false has Charter USA not had charter schools that went out of business? If they went out of business did Charter USA give tax payers, the close to a million dollars a year in fees they made off tax payers back to the county?

mpierce September 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

the close to a million dollars a year in fees they made off tax payers back to the county?

CCSD cost – $9000 per student
CCA cost – $7500 per student

995 students X $1500 savings per student = $1,492,500 in savings

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 11:56 am

Once again you guys are cherry picking facts, you left out the cost of special needs students, transportation cost………

mpierce September 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm

CCA has special needs students. Transportation is usually around 5% of the cost per student (exclude them and savings is still over a million).

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Let’s keep it real. You do not have a 11% ratio of special needs students. And since you have no transportation you do not have the most expensive students to service. Once again can you guys please let us all see the contact with Charter USA? Do you not think we tax payers should see it?

mpierce September 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Again w/ transportation?

2010 CCSD transportation: $375 per student

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 5:53 am

Also you realize it cost about 33 percent more to educate students in high school verse elementry? And Cherokee Charter does not have a high school.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

According to CCSD enrollment figures, 28.7% of students are in grades 9-12.
Applying your 33% figure to the FY13 CCSD budget:
9-12: $16184.76 per student
PK-8: $12168.99 per student

Removing transportation costs (estimating $500 per student based on 2010 figures and adjusting for inflation)
CCSD: $11668.99
CCA: $7678.15 (added food service not included in my previous estimate)

$3990.84 x 995 students = $3,970,885.80 savings this year
(That includes the $891,848 CSUSA management fee)

As far as special needs students: CCA takes them as do 231 private schools through the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program. Those scholarships average $6000 per student per year. Perhaps that number should be increased to incentivize more private school options.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Your math is off. First the cheapest students to service are elementary students. And Cherokee Charter is mainly elementary. Second you would have to know the exact amount of kids in elementary for both the Charter and public schools and factor the extra cost put on the public schools for educating the more expensive students for same flat credit amount you used. Finally I am using private school pricing but it is blended somewhere between 33% to 50% more for 6th grade to 12th grade.

For instance if the cost of educating a student is only 5k for k to 5th grade than getting 6k would be a bonus. If the cost of educating a high school kid is 14k than I am only getting 5k that would be bad deal. I am not saying that the numbers I used are nearly accurate. But that is the way a business would evaluate cost verse revenue.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Your math is off.

Where is my math off? Your explanations only seem to refer to your 33% number being inaccurate. CCA takes K-8 students. I believe I separated out the CCSD high school student costs accurately based on your assertion and the CCSD enrollment figures. If you see an error please point it out.

I serious doubt that the ratios of elementary to middle school students between CCA and CCSD along with the associating cost differences are going to make any significant change in the outcome of the numbers.

somewhere between 33% to 50% more for 6th grade to 12th grade.

First you say 33% more for 9-12; now you say 33%-50% for 6-12?
You want to change your assertion now that you don’t like the outcome? Perhaps you ought to have a better idea of how you come to your conclusions before stating them as fact.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

mpierce,

Are you in business? In all due respect what I wrote is basic concept in business.

A true comparison would be the cost associated with educating the student by elementary, 6th-8th , high school.

Obviously if it cost less to educate a student than you should get less for revenue. Do you understand the concept?

Also if a charter school mainly has elementary you would not compare to a school that a way higher proportion of 6th to 12th grade and come to any real conclusion without weighting the revenue verse the cost by grade level?

For instance If I owned a window company and it sold low cost windows and high cost windows you realize one would not associate a mean number for sales. One would separate it by product line. Or someone could manipulate the numbers by telling a customer you over paid for a window and mean while they were selling the low end cost window not the high end cost window. And the low end had cheaper materials…… and the high end had higher end materials….. In the business world call this comparing apples to oranges. Do you understand now?

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Yes, but you failed to show any true cost differential between the grades. I used YOUR 33% differential for high school students to factor them out ($16185 high, $12169 other). Further you did establish anything to demonstrate a variance in the percentages of students with k-8.

Your example of 14K of a high school student is mute as I removed them from the comparison. I understand your concept just fine, but not your application of said concept without a valid basis for comparison.

FYI:
CCA expected breakdown of student enrollment (According to last years charter application):
grade percentage weighting of K-8 students
K 10.5%
1 10%
2 10%
3 10%
4 10%
5 10%
6 13.1%
7 13.1%
8 13.1%
Average 4.26

CCSD (actual enrollment 8/28/12)
K 10.9%
1 11.3%
2 11%
3 11.3%
4 11%
5 11.1%
6 11%
7 11.3%
8 10.9%
Average 4

CCA has heavier weighting to older children than CCSD in the K-8 grade levels. Again the higher cost of high school students has already been removed based on your original assertion that they cost 33% more than other students. Based on this additional breakdown of K-8 students and your NEW assertion, the savings would be even greater! And reiterate my previous statement “I serious doubt that the ratios of elementary to middle school students between CCA and CCSD along with the associating cost differences are going to make any significant change in the outcome of the numbers.”

John Konop September 14, 2012 at 9:25 am

In all due respect your math is way off again!

You would compare the amount of kids in k-5 verse the amount of kids 6-8/ 9-12. Also you would break each group by cost category. . Why would you leave out high school kids knowing the Charter school does not service them and they are the most expensive group to educate ? Than you would average the cost per student in dollars for each group. Than you would go to the next step for a real weighted cost by dollars.

Then you would compare what you are getting from tax payers verse the cost of servicing a student. Obviously you do understand it cost way more to educate a high school kid verse elementary?

mpierce September 14, 2012 at 10:45 am

Again, you supply NO data or analysis!

Do you just not understand mathematics?

I’ll go over it again.
Budgeted $518,740,000 based on estimated 38,940 students.
Thus $13,321 per student average. (Division)

According to CCSD enrollment figures, 28.7% of students are in grades 9-12 .
Applying YOUR 33% figure to the FY13 CCSD budget:

Using Algebra:
9-12: $16184.76 per student (High school)
PK-8: $12168.99 per student

Because CCA has on high school students, the $12168.99 value is used for comparison.

Then $500 was backed out of that figure for transportation costs which CCA doesn’t have yielding (subtraction)
$11668.99 average cost PK-8 (excludes transportation)

CCA:
Budget $7,639,755 for 995 students
per student $7678.15 (division)

Let me know where you get lost.

“Why would you leave out high school kids knowing the Charter school does not service them and they are the most expensive group to educate ?

33% more expensive accord to YOU which I accounted for using algebra: High School $16184.76; Other $12168.99

Your next complaint was that middle school was more expensive than elementary. I then showed you that CCA budget was for a higher percentage of middle school students than CCSD. Since you obviously haven’t followed that I will break down into elementary, middle, high (estimating a 33% differential between elementary and middle)

Level CCSD CCA savings
Elementary $10513.40 $6796.66 $3716.74
Middle $13982.82 $9039.56 $4943.26
High $16184.76 N/A
(per student)

Feel free to provide your own analysis at any time!

mpierce September 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Sorry, my numbers for CCSD costs excluded construction costs.

CCSD FY13:
Budget: $518,740,000
Students: 38,940
Cost per student: $13,321

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm

For accounting are you counting the monthly service cost ie rent/bond monthly payment or the cost of the building? If you used the cost of the building on a ratio your cost would be way higher since less students can fit in your facility.

mpierce September 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I just have a total:
http://canton-ga.patch.com/articles/cherokee-school-board-approves-budget

If you have a link to the detailed FY13 budget, I would be happy to look at it and revise as necessary.

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I do not have it nor do I have a copy of the contract Charter USA has with the charter school. I would like to see both as a tax payer.As you know we tax payers have been burned by officials not reading and or understanding contracts ie Bobo deal for 50 million we tax payers got left holding the bag on.

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 10:40 am

….Since Konop has a)never spoken to any member of the GCEF board,..

BTW not true Danny Duke and I have talked about this issue before. I told Danny as well as cherokee school board members I do not blame him for the situation. His job and yours is to get the best deal posiable for your stock holders ie Charter USA. Danny is a smart guy only doing his job.

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 11:59 am

Lyn Carden,

BTW can you provide all of us a copy of the contract with Charter USA?

Three Jack September 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Thanks Lyn. After reading through this thread, your post is the clearest rebuttal to John’s assertions. Like John, I have been concerned about taxpayer responsibility in this situation, but you and Buzz have shown with facts that the concern was misplaced.

Personally I am against the charter school approach as it is merely a bandaid on a big problem. I would rather see a complete reform resulting in open school choice. Charter is an incremental step in that direction, but it sure is messy…might as well go for the whole enchilada at one time.

benevolus September 12, 2012 at 11:51 am

Is Supt. Barge correct in saying that this is not needed because the state BOE already has this authority and provides this function? If so, isn’t this just a way to take that authority from the state BOE? And if that is the case, why would we want/need to do that? Is the state BOE unable to do this function properly for some reason?

griftdrift September 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Whether its the BOE or a separate commission does it is not relevant at this point. The Constitutional issue was whether the state could create charter schools that did not meet the narrow definition in the Constitution. ( although there was a noteworthy dissent on that interpretation )

ryanhawk September 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm

No, Barge is full of BS — just as he was when he personally told me he favored state sponsored charters while running for office.

The State could try this, but the Supreme Court has told them it is unconstitutional for them to do it and the Supreme Court will rule against them if they try. Thus the constitutional amendment is necessary.

Buzz Brockway September 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm

The issue of the lawsuit was the definition of a “special” school. The Legislature said charter schools commissioned by the State were special schools. The Supreme Court said only local school boards could create schools not the State unless they were schools for the blind, etc… Only those types of schools are special schools according the the ruling.

Also by including the phrase that local school boards have “exclusive control over education” in their ruling overturning HB881, the Supreme Court called into question the State’s entire role in education. The ruling conflicts with Article VIII of the State Constitution which says “The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.” How can local school boards have “exclusive control” when education is a “primary obligation” of the State of Georgia? In a nutshell that’s why we need the constitutional amendment.

If this amendment fails expect another lawsuit to prevent the State BOE from doing what they are doing now which is giving the State commission charter schools funding.

kararmartin September 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm

As a parent of 2 children who are currently enrolled in Cherokee Charter Academy, I am disappointed that there are several instances where false information, half truths and blatant lies have been allowed to fill the media outlets in attempts to shed negative lights on the upcoming Charter Amendment on the Nov. 6th ballot. If you appose the amendment, fine. That is your legal right as a citizen, however please do so with integrity and honesty when informing others of your reasons. Why is it that whenever someone questions the laws or routines of any existing situation immediately those against change resort to hostile and manipulative tactics? Why is it that we can not stand on the issues and facts themselves when debating a subject we are passionate about? The issue as I see it, the children. Somewhere along the line many have ceased to consider what this amendment means to the children and instead have focused on the issue of funding. While I agree that funding is always going to be a topic for discussion in any public option, that is all it should be, a topic. Again, the focus should be that of the children. And while we are on the subject, has any one bothered to speak to the kids of Georgia? I have. And while they are young, and not completely familiar with the ins and outs of financial strains, these facts are clear: 1. We are loosing our youth. They are dropping out at alarming rates, they are turning to drugs, jails or institutions. They are feel inferior. Many of our states children can not read or perform arithmetic in comparison to the global average. 2. The children I have spoken with at such schools as Cherokee Charter have hope once again. They love their school. They feel smart again and believe they have a future to strive for. Many are receiving much better grades then past years at other traditional public schools. 3. The children believe that while some of their friends are doing good at the district school that for them switching to a Charter School saved them. So I ask you this, how do you look at those children and tell them that they have to sacrifice their future because the adults want to play politics? How do you say that as adults we do not put their needs and best interest ahead of where we want money in politics to be distributed? We need to work together to make the best educational decisions for Georgia’s children. There is money out there, we just need to put as much effort into finding it as has gone into arguing about it. Public Charter schools are needed, as are traditional public schools. Without the amendments passage, current state approved charter schools will definitely be in danger of closing as the Supreme Courts ruling clearly stated local boards only have the power to approve schools. This should not be one against the other, this should be ALL for the CHILDREN!

John Konop September 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Kararmartin,

I live in Cherokee county and that not been the experience for my wife and I. My oldest just graduated from Woodstock High School and is going to school in one of the top 3 engineering schools in the USA. And by the way he has many friends from Cherokee county also attending the school and doing well. My youngest is in middle school as well and doing fine. Overall most people think the schools are very good in Cherokee County. I do think there is room for improvement, and the district is currently rolling out and or working on new programs. I think the academy style education for math &science, arts and vocational is a great step in the right direction. Also I do know the school is working on a home school / public school option.

benevolus September 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Hi Kara,
I think the question for opponents isn’t so much about the kids at the charter school. It’s about the OTHER kids.
Are we going to have less resources for them?
Are they going to be the hardest to teach?
Are they going to be the most expensive to teach?

kararmartin September 13, 2012 at 7:08 am

benevolus,
With allowing the State to approve Charter Schools the resources will not be less. Once the amendment passes here is how funding will go. Each child in Georgia receives a per pupil amount from the state. Let’s use an approx. number for simplifying it and say it is $5000. As far as the state is concerned that amount follows your child. It is already doing that. If your child is home schooled or goes to a private school for instance, the district school no longer receives that funding. Take my children for instance, if this amendment does not pass, I will either be homeschooling or trying to financially figure out private school. So that per pupil amount would not be going to the district anyway. Therefore the argument of the state per pupil money is somewhat mute. Those against this amendment are assuming that all of the charter children would return to the district school, Which many would not. Secondly, the state funding is probably very close to the amount it would take to teach 1 child throughout the year. Therefore with the removal of that child the school is not loosing anything. That funding would have went for the educational needs of that child, it still is, just at a different school. And now we get to the local taxes. The district school keeps the local taxes for that child regardless of where he/she goes to school….lets say that amount is $4000. So they make a profit of $4000 per child on those not attending that district school! They keep that money, the classrooms are less crowded and they have more funding for each child still at the school. How is this a bad thing? Here is an example…I have 5 customers. each customer pays for their material. 1 customer decides to use another company and takes the money they would have given me for their material. I did not loose any money on material because they were originally paying for it and I didn’t buy it first. So I break even on that material purchase (state funding). I am loosing the profit, however the customer that left then gives me the money that I was going to get in profit (local taxes), but I did not have to do the work! As a business owner, that is great! Same principle here.
Public Charter schools have to enroll anyone who applies as long as their is still available space. Therefore, anyone can apply. The myth that only those who are wealthy or unchallenged are accepted into charters is false. many charters are opened in the lowest income neighborhoods, where choice is needed. Many of the children enrolled at CCA are reduced lunch, free lunch, autistic, etc. It is a public school. Therefore it is dependent on who enrolls, they do not pick and choose their students! I hope this has helped clear up some misconceptions. Let’s all work together to help EVERY student get the type of education that best fits that individual child!

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 7:37 am

In all due respect you should consider the following:

1) The cost to educate all students are not the same ie special needs, high school more expensive than elementary…….

2) Lower income parents have a more difficult issues with providing transportation for students…..

3) We are creating duplicate overhead if not cordinated well the local school district

4) Cherokee County Schools has on line classes now and they are working on a home school/ public school option

5) Cherokee County also is rolling out stem schools that allow students to specialize by area ie math and science, arts and vocational. They have already started in the elementary grades for math and science.

6) Your business model does not consider fix cost tax payers already invested into infasrtucture. It will cost tax payers more for under utilizing the infastructure. That is why I have been promoting increasing cross utilization not creating more infastructure.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm

“6) Your business model does not consider fix cost tax payers already invested into infasrtucture.

That cost is a red herring. While that point may be applicable to some school districts, even with charter schools, CCSD is growing and and building schools to accommodate that growth. Expansion of charters merely mitigates the need for additional infrastructure.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I agree 100% that is why this should be coordinated on a local level.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm

It should, but…

Georgia Constitution:
ARTICLE VIII
SECTION I
The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.

To me that obligation goes beyond just giving out money; it means it is the duty of the State to act when it feels the local government fails to.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm

mpierce,

Do you think the local voters voice does not count? Do you think the state knows more than local voters?

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Do you think the local voters voice does not count?

It counts with distribution of local funds. It does not supersede the authority of the State when distributing state funds.

Do you think the state knows more than local voters?

Sometimes (see Clayton County).

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Let’s be honest Cherokee is not Clayton via schools. Cherokee has SAT scores above the national average and some of the best in the state. Also it has a top 10 advance math program in the nation. Obviously the system has room for improvement, but the Stem programs, on-line…….all are good signs. I have no idea about the improvements in Clayton in all fairness…..

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Agreed, Cherokee is not Clayton. But Cherokee was not listed in your questions. I took them as a statewide philosophical as opposed to Cherokee specific.

Not all schools in Cherokee score above average. Nor does the traditional teaching curriculum best fit each student. Parents should have more choices to find the best learning environment for their children.

As I already stated, I prefer vouchers as that allows much more flexibility than this convoluted charter system. But if charters are what can pass, it’s better than what we had before them.

Do you believe that the current options in CCSD would exist without pressure from the taxpayers for charters and vouchers? When I was growing up, my parents had to move (within the same county) so I could go to a better school. That’s still the case for many if they don’t hit the lottery jackpot.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm

More personal experience: I went to one of the top high schools in the state (and well above national average) and was bored doing the same math problems (with different numbers) over and over again. There were better learning environments for me (it may have been the right environment for others) which my parents couldn’t afford because their tax dollars were sent to the assigned school whether I attended it or not.

John Konop September 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

All I know is my son found it very challenging and is getting straight A’s so far in one of three best engineering schools in the country. He told me that his friends from Cherokee all are doing well and seemed very prepared. You realize Cherokee County High Schools have some of the best physics teachers in the state? Mrs. Burke at Woodstock is an amazing physics teacher!!! BTW John Bell runs a great math department at Woodstock. In all seriousness you should do your homework about the teachers and not listen to……….It is no accident that advance Cherokee math students have done so well in college.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 10:41 pm

In all seriousness you should do your homework about the teachers and not listen to……….

Where did I blame the teachers? Like in most professions there are those who excel and those who don’t.

I went to Walton in Cobb. We won many academic competitions (some of which I was a part). We had many excellent teachers. Of course, I had a few who were terrible.

My complaint was mainly with the structure used. It worked well for many students and I’m glad whatever structure used for your son he found beneficial. In my case math was taught largely by rote and the whole class was moved along at the same pace.

There are schools today that have a more individualized curriculum and/or work in small groups that move at different paces. There are those who focus more on critical thinking and avoid rote learning. There are montessori schools, religious schools, online schools, vocational schools, etc…

Many people work better in different environments, using different methods, having different levels of homework. The added flexibility of charter schools will allow more students to find an environment which suits them. Of coarse, private schools offer even more flexibility and provide many more choices.

dorian September 13, 2012 at 8:35 am

Not having followed the debate closely since I don’t have any school age kids, I am curious about one thing: do charter schools have to take any student that wants to attend in a district or can they choose the ones they want and reject the ones they don’t?

kararmartin September 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Hello Dorian,

Charter schools have to take any student in the district. If there are more children that applied then there are spaces available then they do a lottery. It works like the preschool lottery does. They do not get to “choose” the students.

benevolus September 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm

However, it seems self-evident that the kids who go there are going to be the ones who have parents that are more involved and probably with better resources than those who don’t.

FWIW, I am not philosophically opposed to charter schools, but I do think it is hard to do in a way that, while possibly making it better for some kids, probably makes it worse for others.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm

benevolus,

When parents send their children to a state approved charter, local funds will not go with them. That leaves the same amount of local funds the educate fewer students; thus more money per student for those remaining in the traditional school system.

benevolus September 14, 2012 at 8:52 am

I am getting confused by terminology.
The state Dept of Ed has about 130 “charter schools” as part of the public school system.
http://archives.doe.k12.ga.us/DMGetDocument.aspx/Master%20Charter%20School%20Database%202012-02-02.pdf?p=6CC6799F8C1371F6BCD13A7711B923A00118CC29B27A42B17D31E7E235DE8A64&Type=D

So we are talking about some other kind of charter school, right? A private, for profit charter school? I just want to be clear.

mpierce September 14, 2012 at 9:09 am

The 4th column of your referenced spreadsheet is Type. The debate is over the SCSS (State Chartered Special Schools) type. There is a brief description here.

All charter schools are public schools. Some of them may be managed by for-profit groups.

Harry September 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Why couldn’t a local BOE opt to have all schools be charter schools? Problem solved.

mpierce September 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Loss of control.

Loss of funding? According to GCSA “In Georgia, charters do not receive capital funds for facilities.” But I would think a Republican controlled state government could change that if an entire district went charter.

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