June 6-- About 16,000 charter school students in Georgia may be able to return to their schools this Fall after all. Their future has been in limbo since the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in favor of local school boards which objected to the state directing local school funding to charter schools without approval of local boards.
Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons attended a meeting Friday of a special state senate sub-committee formed to help save the charter schools.
"The Department of Education has found a way for these schools to either go back before their local boards and get approved, or apply to the state as a special state school like the School for the Blind so they can operate this year. Schools are doing their best to qualify under those parameters and hopefully we can get it done," he says,
Senator Williams says the legislature may consider other options when it reconvenes for a special session in August or during its next regular session in January.
"It's really all about academic performance and if the public charter schools are performing well, we ought to be rewarding them and encouraging them rather than shutting them down," Senator Williams says.
The state Supreme Court decision also negated funding for the state's on-line Virtual Academy. Senator Williams says lawmakers also have to find a way to keep that going.
"Kids learn digitally now. It's now just about the traditional classroom. You can't take what was going to be 8,500 kids this Fall in the Virtual Academy and say we're not going to fund you. The Supreme Court ruling defunded them in part and we've got to find a way to bridge that," he says.