Charter Faces Shortfall
The Cherokee Charter Academy Governance Council met on Wednesday.
Lower than expected enrollment and lack of available funding have contributed to a $1.3 million budget shortfall at the county's first charter school.
Though 995 students were selected to be part of the school's inaugural class during a May lottery, only 700 enrolled during the school's first week. (Attendance increased to 825 students, school officials told Canton-Sixes Patch in November.)
With 19 days to go before the start of the 2011-12 school year, no one knew if the school would open.
A May 16 Supreme Court of Georgia ruling dissolved the commission that approved Cherokee Charter Academy and 15 other state-commissioned charter schools. The school turned to the Cherokee County Board of Education for approval, but members rejected the charter's petition for a third time on June 24. The state Board of Education approved Cherokee Charter Academy as a state-chartered special school just days later. However, the school didn't have $2.9 million in local funding it would have received as a district-approved or state-commissioned charter school. State-chartered special schools, the designation the state BOE gave to Cherokee Charter Academy and eight other former state-commissioned charter schools, weren't eligible for it. They had to find alternate funding sources.
Erin Hames, Gov. Nathan Deal's deputy chief of staff of policy, told Canton-Sixes Patch that the school received a "direct appropriation" of one-time funds totaling approximately $1.6 million from Deal for this school year.
Although Cherokee Charter Academy received money from the state to open its doors this year, Hames said the school will need to come up with its own funding in the future.
If approved, legislation that cleared the Georgia House of Representatives and the Senate's Education and Youth Special Sub-Committee would allow Georgians to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to restore the state's power to approve charter schools.
Where do public officials stand on the proposed charter school amendment?