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November 14--  The Vidalia school board is electing to give its four schools more autonomy through what is called a "Charter System of Schools."

The board voted Tuesday night to apply to the Georgia Board of Education for the Charter System authority.

School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox says it will result in creation of five-member school governance teams at each school.

"The big part of this from an operational standpoint is having a little more local control at the school levels.  We'll have to create a school governance team that can be considered similar to our school councils, but it will have a little more autonomy over the decision making that goes on at each local school," he said.

One of the team's responsibilities will be recommending school principals to the local school board, according to Dr. Wilcox.

"Ultimately the school board will continue to approve and act on matters like it has in the past.  The recommendations that principals typically make that come back to the school board will go through the school governing councils to the school board for approval at the system level," he said.

If approved by the state legislature, the school system stands to gain an additional $80 per student, however, Wilcox says there are no guarantees on the funding.

Still he reports there are other advantages to the charter system.

"It entitles us to some flexibility regarding some rules and regulations we've had to follow that in some cases are a hinderance to the operation of our school system.  We think we'll be able to take advantage of those and provide more and better opportunities to our kids because of that flexibility.

"Class size is one of the big things.  Seat time is another.  We actually get away from having to report our expenditures regarding the old 65% rule for classroom instruction versus other areas," Wilcox reports.

All of Georgia's public schools have to inform the state school board of their administration systems by 2015.  They have four options ranging from status quo to allowing each individual school to apply for charter school status.

Wilcox characterizes the "Charter System" as a happy medium and the option he thinks most school systems will adopt.