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Schools seek consistency in charters
by Savannah Weeks
November 20, 2012 10:37 AM | 5162 views | 1 1 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fulton County Schools Charter Coordinator Laura Stowell said last week she hopes a new district plan brings more consistency in charters and charter schools in the future as the system continues its transition to a charter system.

Stowall presented the charter proposal to the Fulton County Board of Education during its meeting at Dunwoody Springs Elementary School in Sandy Springs.

One of the issues Stowell addressed is the provision of accurate, timely data available to stakeholders. She said the district’s website will now include the performance of charter schools.

In order to replicate success, Stowell said the system needed to establish clear renewal standards for charters.

“We must create decision alignment tools to allow the Board of Education to make renewal decisions based on system goals,” she said. “To support continuous improvement, we need to develop a plan for school-wide evaluation which complements the tool which is in use at a typical school.”

The charter school coordinator also said that to create clear metrics of success, the district needed to create a defined criteria for success, intervention and revocation.

“We need to say, ‘This is what a successful charter school looks like.’”

Lastly, Stowell said in order to put this plan into action, the district needed to build timelines and work plans and keep working with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, which will also present a plan to the district in January. District 1 board member Katie Reeves commented about making sure charter school boards provide accurate information. “One thing I get asked about often is, ‘How do you make sure that the charter posts accurate information?’” she said.

Reeves said she wanted to make sure in the future there would be a provision in the charter contract stating the schools must provide accurate information.

“I like the idea of the sharing of best practices,” said District 7 board member Julia Bernath.

Bernath also suggested to parents who are not a part of Cohort 1, or the 20 schools who are making the transition to the charter system this year, that the district post videos of governance board training sessions to the website.

Ken Zeff, chief strategy and innovation officer, said the district was doing what it could to capture those sessions on film.

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In other news, the district passed 2013-14 and 2014-15 school year calendar recommendations. The 2013-14 academic year will be 177 days, the same length as the current school year. Classes will begin Aug. 12 and end May 23. Students will also have the full week of Thanksgiving off school. The 2014-15 year will have a total of 178 days.

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