Stephens Co. BOE Moving Forward On Charter System Application

The Stephens County School System is moving ahead with the process of becoming a charter school system.

During a Stephens County Board of Education work session last Tuesday, Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten updated Board members on the current timeline for Stephens County becoming a charter school system.

According to Whiten, state law said that by June 30, 2015, school systems have to choose an operating system, such as a charter system, moving forward.

The Board of Education approved moving forward with the process to become a charter system last month.

Whiten said that the school system is working on a PowerPoint presentation currently to help educate people on what a charter system and what it is not.

“What we are looking at, and what that PowerPoint will stress, is we are looking at a contract with the state Department of Education and that contract is going to say in exchange for ‘Here is what we are going to do’, the state is going to relax state rules for us,” said Whiten.

Whiten also said that the school system will post everything related to the charter system process on the school system’s website, including a question-and-answer section.

Meanwhile, Whiten said the goal is to create a committee of individuals from all different sectors of the community, including businesspeople, parents, and others, and to have that large committee begin meeting next month.

She said that larger committee would then break down into a number of smaller committees.

“One group will look at the governance piece, another group will look at the education innovations piece, and one group will look at waivers,” said Whiten. “If you go back and look at some of those applications, every one of them has a governance piece, every one has the innovations, and at the end of each of one sections, what waivers did they ask for to accomplish what they wanted to accomplish.”

According to Whiten, the proposed timeline calls for the proposed charter system petition to the state to be written over the summer, with public meetings taking place in September, and the Board of Education considering approval in October.

If approved by the local Board of Education, the timeline calls for the charter system application to be turned into the state in November, with final state approval expected in May 2014.