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Hall schools facing tough decision

Districts to choose between 3 ‘operational systems;’ official says none fit quite right

POSTED: February 16, 2014 10:34 p.m.

The Hall County School District may soon find itself having to choose between three options that may not be just right.

“Unless there are legislative changes this year, we will have to make one of those three choices,” Superintendent Will Schofield said.

State law is requiring all school districts to make a decision between three “operational systems” — Investing in Educational Excellence, charter or the status quo.

The original deadline to make this decision was in 2013, but legislation extended it to June 30, 2015, giving local boards of education a little more than a year to make a choice.

“We don’t quite fit any of them,” Schofield said about the options. “But we will do what we need to.

“Status quo is certainly the one option that does not fit what we have done,” he added. “If there are no changes this session, we will have to determine which of the other two fits us best.”

Both IE2 and charter systems offer more flexibility and waivers than the status quo system does, but that flexibility is dependent on student performance and success. They also allow for more public input and local control.

“Both require a district contract with the state stipulating freedom from regulation in exchange for performance,” Schofield said. “Charter certainly has the assumption of much more school-level governance and control, hence local charter schools.”

The Hall County School District is home to 11 charter schools, including Flowery Branch High School, A Global Studies and Leadership Academy, and Sardis Enrichment School. In addition, there are 10 programs of choice, where students are selected to participate through a competitive application process.

Gainesville City Schools is a charter system.

There are consequences for IE2 or charter systems which don’t perform up to par, though, including loss of governance of nonperforming schools. Charter schools could see the contract terminated, thus becoming a status quo system.

Schofield said there should be more certainty about a time frame at the end of this legislative session.


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