Over the next several months, you will be hearing us talk about becoming a charter school system. I am sure many of you are wondering what we are talking about and more importantly, why.
As part of legislation introduced in 2010, the state has given school systems until June 30th, 2015 to make a decision about how they choose to operate their school system.
The state has given schools systems several options and the system that seems to be the best fit for us in Stephens County is a charter system. Since we fought a hard battle in November to defeat the charter amendment legislation, which passed, I am sure many people are confused as to why we are now moving toward becoming a charter system.
In this case, the word charter means contract. Our school system will have a contract between our local board of education and the state board of education. In the contract we will spell out which Georgia Department of Education rules we will waive or flex so that we can meet the specific needs of our students and community. Even with this flexibility, we will still be a public school system, and will continue to maintain compliance with all federal laws and requirements. As a condition of being granted flexibility from state rules, however, we must ensure the state department of education that the academic performance of our students will meet or exceed state averages--something our school system has been and will continue to do. The terms of our contract will spell out how we intend to do this. Part of being a charter system will be an emphasis on school-based leadership and decision-making.
Students need to be successful as they leave school so that they can be independent, productive contributing citizens and that is our motivation for applying to be a charter system. The flexibility afforded through charter system status will allow us to serve our students in new ways and better meet their needs.