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State OKs Gainesville charter system plan
Hall County's World Language Academy gains charter status
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The State Board of Education voted 8-2 Thursday to approve the Gainesville school system’s application to become a charter school system.

The Charter Systems Act gives school systems freedom from some state restrictions so that they can develop innovative ways to increase student achievement, but it also makes school systems more accountable for academic results.

David Shumake, associate superintendent for the Gainesville school system, was instrumental in pushing the plan for the school system.

Shumake said each charter system will receive $125,000 for developing its educational program, including training of teachers and other staff.

The money also can be spent on public relations efforts and acquiring needed equipment, supplies and curriculum materials.

He and other school officials have said that the district’s innovation — programs of choice throughout the system — is already established and that the charter designation could earn the system grants.

Superintendent Steven Ballowe said: "This charter district status will enable Gainesville to continue (its) march toward allowing each child of Gainesville to achieve success."

The state board also approved charter system applications for the Decatur and Marietta city systems.

The board denied Chattahoochee County’s application and approved Warren County’s application in May, said Dana Tofig, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education.

Also on Thursday, the state board unanimously approved the Hall County school system’s request for a new charter school, World Language Academy.

The academy, set to open in the fall, will be in the former Chestnut Mountain Elementary School, which is moving to a new 900-student building off Union Church Road.

The new school will feature instruction of state-mandated, elementary-school curriculum in English and Spanish, beginning in early grades at first and eventually as a kindergarten through fifth-grade school.

"Our staff is very excited to begin this journey with our students and families," said David Moody, elementary education director for Hall County schools.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who crafted the charter systems legislation, said: "Charter systems offer the truest form of local control, and Georgia will see a genuine paradigm shift as more charter schools advance flexibility, innovation and resourceful teaching.

"We stand in strong support of these new charter systems and will work to assist them as they pave the way for a new model of education in Georgia."

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