Below are commonly asked questions about Charter schools. If you are unable to find an answer for your question, please join us at an upcoming Town Hall Meeting in Februay or March or contact us using the Stay in Touch page.
A charter school is a public school that operates under contract with a local authorizer such as the Forsyth County Public Schools. Charter schools are governed by their own independent, non-profit boards with oversight from the authorizer and the state Department of Education. District specific charter schools have district-wide enrollment zones and are allowed flexibility in their programming in exchange for specific performance goals. As of this year, charter schools can apply to have their school draw students from multiple counties instead of just one county resulting in a multi-county charter school. Lastly, a statewide charter schools can enroll anyone within the operating state regardless of county residence.
Charter schools are intended to give parents living within it's attendance zone additional educational options for their children. Charter schools, like traditional schools, use curriculum aligned to state standards and student performance at charters is measured using the same state tests used at traditional schools. Some charter schools outperform traditional schools and many traditional schools outperform charter schools. The decision to attend a specific school should be made only after a thorough investigation of all available options and programs.
Like all public schools, charter schools receive a combination of federal, state and local funding. The state Department of Education calculates a funding sheet for each individual charter school, based on the school’s student and employee composition. The local authorizer then develops a proportional local funding amount based on the average amount each student in the district receives from local dollars. The formula for each of these calculations can be found in Title 20, Georgia School Law.
The formula used to fund charter schools in Georgia was designed to give charter schools a proportional funding level based on 100% of the per-pupil amount received by traditional schools. Any new school, traditional or charter, tends to receive a lower funding amount, because the state's QBE funding formula assigns additional dollars for teachers with advanced trainging and experience.
Each charter school is governed by its own independent board. Charter school boards are incorporated as Georgia non-profit corporations. Some charter schools contract with Educational Management Organizations to run their schools but all legal and fiduciary responsibility for a charter school rests with its independent governing board. The district is charged by the state with "control and management" of the charter schools it authorizes, though both the authorizer and the Department of Education mainly provide oversight and support to charter schools rather than actively manage them.
Just as at traditional schools, teachers at charter schools are required to be Highly Qualified as mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Charter schools are given slightly more flexibility in defining Highly Qualified for their instructional staff. Qualification standards at public schools in Georgia are set by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Read more information on the Commission and teacher standards.
Forsyth County currently has 1 charter school called The Forsyth County Academy School that educates students in grades 10-12. The academy is a virtual school focused on helping students who are at risk of dropping out of school with an opportunity to finish high school online and receive their diplomas.
There are currently 110 charter schools in Georgia, not including schools within charter systems. Of the 110 charter schools, there are 80 start-up charter schools and 30 conversion charter schools. In addition, there are 14 charter systems in Georgia, which include 107 schools. For additional information please go to Georgia Department of Education FAQs.
ICSAtlanta is currently applying for a multi-county charter which will allow the school to enroll any student that lives in Forsyth, Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, Gwinnett and Cherokee County. As a result, no child will be denied enrollment if they live within one of these counties. However, due to student body size limitations, enrollment may become difficult because of the large attendance zone causing a student wait list.
Charter school employees are recruited, hired and employed by each individual charter school. They are not employees of the district. In order to find out more about working at a specific charter school, it is necessary to approach the school(s) at which you wish to teach.
Plan to attend the first Town Hall meeting on February 26, 2013 at the recreation center at Fowler Park where Highway 9/Atlanta Highway intersects with Castleberry Road in Forsyth County. Visit the Events tab for more details about the meeting and to RSVP.
Approved charter applications are posted at the Department of Education's website. Contacting charter schools directly is a great way to find out more about them. Charter school board meetings are open to the public and meetings are posted on each school’s website. Calling a district charter office is also a good way to get general information about the district’s approach to its charter school program.