The Georgia Charter Schools Association held a community meeting this morning to discuss possibly bringing a charter school to Albany/Dougherty County.
There are two types of charter schools; independent charter schools and dependent charter schools. Independent charter schools are either locally approved schools created by petitions or schools that are approved by the state or Georgia Charter Schools Commission, generally after a local denial.
Dependent Charter Schools, on the other hand, still report to the local school system and school board but have their own board of directors. An example of this would be International Studies Elementary School here in Dougherty County.
Andrew Lewis, with the GSCA, says he thinks a new charter school of either kind would be beneficial to this area. Lewis says these schools give parents and teachers more lee-way when it comes to what they teach and how they run the school; they don't have to follow the traditional rules of the school board. Essentially, the only thing teachers and school administrators would have to abide by are the statewide tests that would still be mandatory for the students.
As with pros, there are of course cons that Lewis acknowledges. Lewis says an independent charter school may or may not have transportation; if the board of directors decides the money in the budget would be more useful in the classroom than towards transportation than the parents would be responsible for picking up and dropping off their children.
Darrel Ealum, who currently represents District 6 on the Dougherty County School Board says he is okay and supports a charter school coming to the area if it is dependent; meaning it would ultimately report back to the school system and school board. However, Ealum says he does not support independent charter schools. Ealum believes in having a democracy; he says the community elected those on the school board for a reason and should trust them to run the schools.
Ealum also said an independent charter school would have a difficult time here due to funding. They wouldn't receive local funding, only funds from the state, and therefore most likely wouldn't be able to afford things like buses, sports, and other extra-curricular activities. Taxpayers wouldn't be spending any extra money on these schools which is a positive aspect but ultimately the school would be hurt without those funds.
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