Local boards of education across Georgia have approved about 30 percent of the charter school applications they've received so far this school year. That's about 5 percent higher than last year.
Bibb County board members just gave the go-ahead to their first two charter schools. Bibb County has been presented with charter school petitions in the past. But this year is different. Thanks to the state constitutional amendment voters passed in November, the state can approve petitions that local boards reject. Board members easily passed a plan from retired Bibb principal Laura Perkins called the Academy for Classical Education in Macon. The next step is to go before the state Department of Education for approval. Perkins says that meeting should take place next month. In the meantime, they are already busy. "We are going to begin pre-enrollment in the next week. We’re also looking for a place where we can establish at least 2 enrollment days where parents can come get a paper application, fill it out and turn it in then."
Perkins hopes to open her academy next fall, starting with grade k-8.
Lou Erste is charter schools division director for the state Department of Education. He says that while boards are approving more petitions this year, fewer petitions are coming in. "There are fewer poor quality applicants in the pipeline, and of those that are in the pipeline the approval rate is higher."
Erste says there are still some lesser quality applicants in the pipeline, but most of those get denied at the local level.