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Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 9:34am

Judge to Hear Lawsuit Over Charter School Funding

Seven school districts will argue their case in court Friday against the state for approving charter schools in their districts contrary to the local board’s will.

A group representing charter schools recently criticized the districts for wasting money suing the state while their schools face severe budget cuts.

Sam Cole with the Georgia Charter Schools Association says the legal fees total nearly $200,000 so far.

"They can be used to save an art teacher, they can be used to save a music teacher," says Cole.

But attorney for Spalding County Schools Tim Shepherd, says there’s more money than that at stake. He projects Spalding County Schools will lose a half a million dollars to Herring Bay Academy the first year it opens in 2011.

"The annual hit to each school system for each of these charter schools is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, and you’re not looking at just one year," says Shepherd. " You’re looking at many years plus many more of these charter schools starting up, so the school systems have no choice but to fight this."

The state is forcing local districts to fund the charter schools they’ve denied by withholding state funds equivalent to what locals would have given them and giving it to the charter school.

Fulton Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob will hear arguments from the seven districts suing the state and the state board of education Friday. They include: Atlanta, Bulloch, Candler, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Henry, and Spalding County School districts .

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