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Coalition makes case for charter schools

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POSTED: August 12, 2010 1:17 p.m.
A coalition representing more than 5,000 public virtual charter school students, parents, teachers and supporters from across Georgia charged the state’s Charter School Commission with ignoring state law by refusing to create a funding formula based on sound research and actual costs of public virtual charter schools.
As a result, for the third consecutive year, more than 6,000 students in Georgia’s public online schools will receive only a fraction of funds the law provides for their education.  
Georgia Families for Public Virtual Education released a letter recently demanding the commission immediately reconsider its decision to fund virtual public school students at one-third of the allotment of other public school students.
Students at traditional brick-and-mortar public schools and brick-and-mortar charter schools receive an average of $8,800 per pupil. The letter, penned by Georgia attorney Douglas Rosenbloom, requests a meeting with the commission to review the arbitrary and unexplained decision to fund virtual public school students at less than $3,200.
“In 2008, the Legislature passed and Gov. Perdue signed HB 881, mandating public funds follow each student from one public school to another, ensuring every public school student receives fair and equitable funding” said Renee Lord, president of the Georgia Families for Public Virtual Education and parent of a student at Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA), the only statewide virtual charter school.
“We are asking the commission to do the right thing, look at the research and actual costs of fulltime virtual charter schools,” continued Lord. “Set a funding formula that allows some of the funds already allocated for our students to follow them to their new public school.”
In the letter to the commission, attorney Rosenbloom notes that, under HB 881, a virtual charter school student’s funding could be reduced only if the commission followed a four-step process that included research and study into the actual costs of virtual education and identified any specific savings or efficiencies unique to the virtual education model.
According to Rosenbloom, the commission conducted no analysis of “actual costs” or “efficiencies,” to support its low funding decision for virtual charter schools.
The result, he concludes, is a new school year beginnings without any new public virtual school options in Georgia. Last month, two virtual charter schools withdrew their applications following the commission’s decision to provide inadequate funding.
 

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