The is meeting in a special session at . Other than a personnel report, the only item on the agenda is a decision on whether to grant a charter to , which lost its state charter when the state Supreme Court ruled . Technology willing, we'll be tweeting from the meeting (@CantonSxesPatch) and copying the tweets here for expansion and discussion. Here's the school administration's . The school hopes to open this fall with more than 900 students.
That's a wrap from the high school. We'll have some photos and video up before the morning.
8:15 p.m. Just to clarify the numbers involved, according to Petruzielo: The charter proposal to start with 995 students would have cost $6.8 million this coming school year, and the total over five years would have been almost $40 million as the student body rose to 1,145 students. The original proposal for 710 students increasing slightly over time would have started at a cost of $5 million and risen some over the following four years. The school system administration's modified offer of 500 students with no increase would have cost $3.4 million a year. That cost would have been covered through some combination of teacher layoffs, delayed step increases for teachers and/or millage rate increases.
8:09 p.m. The board votes 4-3 against the charter proposal. Rechsteiner, Chapman, Read and Wofford vote no. Geist, Chochran and Usher vote yes.
8:06 p.m. Petruzielo: We can't support the petition for 975 students. We could work with a modified plan for something around 550.
8:04 p.m. He sees major congenital defects in the charter petition that have been there since 2008. "I don't think we can be in a trust-me mode."
8:03 p.m. Petruzielo says the impact this coming school year would be $6.8 million to the budget and more than $40 million over the five years of the charter. "There is no way that you could have that kind of impact and not make some very draconian decisions."
7:59 p.m. Chairman Robert Rechsteiner says he did a lot of homework, including talking to other charter schools and the Georgia School Boards Association.
I'm a big proponent of choice."
7:51 p.m. Robert Wofford is concerned about the dollars being taken away from the kids and about the timing with only about seven weeks before school starts. He also says he's never worked in a public school that could turn down a child in the district. He says the concept of a charter school is great. But not necessarily this proposal from a for-profit school. He has no doubts that the school will be successful if it passes. He has too many questions on this petition.
7:49 p.m. Rob Usher says he's in favor of the charter school.
7:47 p.m. Chapman says he thinks it's a violation of ethics if Geist votes because his children have been accepted to the charter. Geist says he has checked into it, and he's OK to vote and intends to do so.
7:44 p.m. Chapman: I'm for charter schools, but this doesn't offer anything different or better.
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.
7:35 p.m. The board members are taking turns addressing the petition. Geist is for it. Kim Cochran is for it. Janet Read is against it. Mike Chapman is against it.
7:22 p.m. Geist says he can send his children to the school and be a big supporter of the public school system.
7:20 p.m. Board member Mike Geist makes the motion to approve the revised charter petition.
7:14 p.m. Superintendent Frank Petruzielo lays out the options, then says, "I think everybody wants a decision made this evening."
7:08 p.m. Speaker 28, Dennis Conway: Charter schools are fine, but we don't need one in the next 40 days. Vote not and don't rush to judgment. That's the last speaker.
7:06 p.m. Speaker 27, another teacher: Teacher are here from passion, not fear. "Mediocrity has never been acceptable." Vote no, she says.
7:04 p.m. Speaker 25: School system supporters are not bullies. "Please vote no for this particular choice of a charter school for Cherokee County."
7:01 p.m. Speaker 24 is Jon Hage, the head of Charter Schools USA. He wants to be a partner with the school system. Hage says the charter is not for profit, and the company is for profit only to raise money to be the best school system possible.
6:55 p.m. Speaker 23: “If we cared this much about everything, our children would do nothing but succeed in this county.” She's pro-charter, but not this charter. She wants one that's something new and different from a nonprofit company.
6:54 p.m. Speaker 22 is the mother of a special-needs child: "I am advocating choice, pure and simple." She wants the charter.
6:50 p.m. Speaker 21: “We want another option for Cherokee County. … We want to ramp it up.”
6:49 p.m. Speaker 20: The charter academy is a public school. It costs nothing to parents. And the county school board remains atop the governance structure.
6:46 p.m. Speaker 19: “There are great teachers out here, but not every school is best for every child.” She's pro-charter.
6:43 p.m. Speaker 17, an ex-Army officer and dad of five who is pro-charter: “I put my live on the line for choice in America.” He wants options for every child.
6:40 p.m. Speaker 16 is a teacher: "Why give millions of dollars to one school that would take away from all other schools?"
6:36 p.m. Speaker 15 is Tony Roberts, who heads the Georgia Charter Schools Association. He calls for a partnership between the system and academy.
6:34 p.m. Speaker 14, Heather Blevins, a member of the charter academy's governing board: My funds should go to my daughter's education, and the school system isn't meeting her needs.
6:32 p.m. Speaker 13: As a businessman, I don’t believe this proposal is in the best interests of this county.
6:30 p.m. Speaker 12 is an analyst from New York City who evaluates public schools of choice on three metrics: quality education; demand; financially viability. He says the answer is yes across the board.
6:28 p.m. Speaker 11, a mother of four: “Listen to the 2,600 applicants … that support choice. ... What I'm getting isn't working."
6:26 p.m. Speaker 10, the first for the charter: Our troops fight for freedoms such as choice. "Why are you so adamant on removing htat freedom?"
6:24 p.m. Speaker 9: Comparing success at AYP and SATs, Charter Schools USA is way behind Cherokee. “Would this not be a step backwards?”
6:22 p.m. Speaker 8: This groups wants “no accountability for the rules and regulations we as a community have established,” so vote no.
6:20 p.m. Speaker 7: "We already have school choice," the choice to get involved in the public schools, PTAs, meetings, etc. So vote no.
6:18 p.m. Speaker 6: "You were elected to serve all the children of Cherokee County," so vote no.
6:16 p.m. Speaker 5: “This is not a model that we want in Cherokee County.”
6:14 p.m. Speaker 4: This request is “economic segregation. ... How many middle-class people can afford this?"
6:12 p.m. Speaker 3: I don’t understand when people say the school system hasn’t met their needs. “I think the Cherokee County schools are wonderful."
6:10 p.m. Speaker 2, Phil Dodge of Canton: In suburban districts, charter schools don’t perform as well as public schools. "This application: Is it of such high quality that you think it will be better?"
6:08 p.m. First speaker Elizabeth Kruk of Woodstock moved to Cherokee from Cobb to take a leap of faith on the public schools. "The leap of faith has paid off." She's now a teacher. She questions why people want to fix what isn't broken.
6:04 p.m. The personnel report is approved, and it's on to the charter school.
6:03 p.m. We’re underway.
5:44 p.m. The two sides are largely sticking to their color schemes: red for charter supporters, black for opponents. Kind of like Italy around 1870.
5:40 p.m. Unlike eight days ago, the room has plenty of seats available. The 1,000-seat auditorium is perhaps half-full.