Group pitches charter school to Peach County Board of Education

bpurser@macon.comJune 18, 2013 

  • Charter schools proposed for midstate

    Here is the final list of Middle Georgia charter school applications for 2013 compiled by the State Charter Schools Commission. The list includes the proposed grades to be taught:
    • Byron Peach Charter High School, Peach County, 9-12
    • The Academy for Classical Education, Bibb County, K-12
    • St. Augustine Preparatory Academy of Excellence, Bibb County, 9-12
    • Cirrus Academy Charter School, Bibb County, K-12

FORT VALLEY -- A group looking to bring a charter school to Byron presented a petition outlining the proposal to the Peach County Board of Education Tuesday evening.

It was the latest step in a process to open the Byron Peach Charter High School -- an effort to combat lagging graduation rates and test scores, not only in the county but statewide.

The charter school would aim not only to increase those measures but also foster workforce development and community growth, organizers have said.

“Our program is innovative,” said Roy Lewis, a Peach County commissioner and member of the Byron Peach Charter High School Association. “There are a lot of things when you put them all together ... (that) will lead to achievement.”

The 17-page petition includes the mission statement, curriculum, staffing plan and other aspects of how the school would operate. It also includes biographies of the charter school association’s members, which include educators and community leaders.

The State Charter Schools Commission requires that the petition for the charter school be submitted to the local school board at the same time it receives the petition from the association.

“This is for you guys to sell us on this particular project,” Peach school board Chairman Jamie Johnson told association members during the called meeting.

Association members reiterated earlier statements of hoping to work with the Peach County school board in implementing the charter school. However, the association can form the charter school on its own without school board approval.

The board has about 60 days to approve or reject the proposal. An internal school review committee is expected to review the charter petition while school board members comb through it. Johnson said the board may vote on the proposal by July 31.

School board members asked varied questions during Tuesday’s lengthy presentation such as the student-teacher ratio for the charter school, for example.

The long-term goal is 25 students per teacher, Lewis said. The ratio will vary the first few years of the school, which is expected to launch August 2014 if approved.

Also, although the charter school will include 30 more days than county schools and may have additional days when school is out compared to the county system, the charter school plans to mirror the county school calendar.

Johnson asked association members what the charter school offers that the county school system does not.

School board member Donald Williams interjected that the difference is more in aspects of the charter school, such as an extended school day, an extra month to the school year and a study hall in the seventh-period slot.

School board member Robert Hammack said the charter school does not differ in subject matter but in application. He expects the charter school may appeal to students now in private school or those who are home schooled.

The charter school plans to implement a string of smaller ideas that fit together that, association members said, will lead to a stronger educational program.

“I’m neutral,” Johnson said of his position on the proposed school after the meeting. “It sounds good. Peach County has done a lot of things that sound good, but it wasn’t so good -- like the four-day (school) week.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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