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Vote on Gainesville charter school application delayed until June

POSTED: May 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A decision on whether Gainesville City Schools will be one of the first in Georgia to be granted charter system status was deferred Tuesday until the state board of education’s June meeting.

Of the five school systems that applied for the special status, which includes grant money, only Warren County received approval by the 12-member board during a called meeting Tuesday.

The board meets again June 12.

Gainesville City Schools joined Warren County, Marietta City, Chattahoochee County and Decatur City in being the first school systems in Georgia to apply for the status.

Gainesville City Schools officials and officials with three of the other applying systems initially sent petitions to the state board in January and were informed in mid-April that they had to revise their applications because of issues over local school governance.

Local school governance, which includes how individual schools would control budgets and personnel, continued to be an issue with state Department of Education officials Tuesday, despite receiving revised applications.

"The only (system) that stood out as really on target in terms of school governance and what it really meant was Warren County," state School Superintendent Kathy Cox said.

Gainesville City Schools was fourth on the list for a vote, but the board never got to it, after discussing the application of Decatur Schools system at length. Cox recommended Decatur get systemwide charter status, but a charter school study committee recommended it be denied by a vote of 5-0, said committee chair Linda Zechman, who is also a state board of education member.

After lengthy discussion, board members decided to defer a decision on the other school systems because both Cox and state board chair Wanda Barrs had to leave the meeting at 5 p.m.

The meeting, which began at 4 p.m., was called and conducted via teleconference so that eligible school systems could begin to collect grant money. Warren County was approved for a $125,000 grant and awarded charter school system status for five years, from June 2008 to June 2013.

Gainesville’s application was never discussed specifically during the meeting.

"I am very proud of the historic step the Warren County School System has taken today and am confident that they will maximize their potential for educational excellence as a result of becoming a charter system," said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, in a statement from his office. "We plan to work closely with the State Board of Education to ensure that the additional pending petitions, Decatur, Marietta, Gainesville and Chattahoochee County school systems will be given a fair review and quickly approved as well."

Gainesville school officials were not immediately available for comment.



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