Progress waits for no one, but it does pause for budget constraints.
The Jefferson school system is considering pursuit of charter system status, but has had to put the project on the back-burner.
"Due to budget reductions and state-mandated furlough days, there have not been any updates," said Donna McMullan, the system’s associate superintendent.
The district began discussing pursuing the new status in January. In April, the Jefferson City Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to submit a letter of intent to the Georgia Department of Education.
The letter is a nonbinding document that simply notifies the state department that Jefferson officials are considering becoming a charter system.
"This is a nonbinding letter, but it must be submitted to the state by May 1 if we would even like to have the option of moving forward with the charter system," said John Jackson, school system superintendent, prior to the letter being submitted.
In June, the school board submitted an application for a grant through the Department of Education that would help fund its charter system and data-gathering process.
In the meantime, Sherrie Gibney-Sherman, who retired as the school system associate superintendent at the end of last school year, was hired as a consultant to lead the fact-finding mission.
"Being a charter system gives (local districts) more leeway in determining how to get from point A to point B," Gibney-Sherman has said.
"For instance, instead of the state dictating how we identify students for the Early Intervention Program, we would have the opportunity to decide the best method for our school system. Besides being given more flexibility in making decisions, charter system status also brings additional state funding to approved school systems.
Among other things, Gibney-Sherman will help write the system’s petition to the Department of Education should the system decide to move forward with becoming a charter system.
The petition would outline to the state how Jefferson would operate under charter status. The board has until November to submit an application to the state for approval. If approved, the earliest that the new system would take affect would be for the 2010-11 school year.
Prior to making any final decisions, school system staff are expected to seek community input and to also tour individual schools and systems elsewhere that have successfully gained charter status.