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Avossa Stands Firm on Denying Fulton Science Middle School Petition

Sandy Springs, Roswell and Alpharetta parents are upset that Fulton Science Academy Middle School could lose its charter. Fulton Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa argued, Monday, that an eight-year extension to operate is inappropriate for financial re

 

Sandy Springs, Roswell and Alpharetta parents are upset that Fulton Science Academy Middle School could lose its charter.

At a key vote Tuesday, Fulton County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa is urging the Board of Education to vote down request to operate for eight more years in Alpharetta.

"It has never been my intention to close the school," Avossa said at a press briefing on Monday, a day before the BOE vote. But he argued that an eight-year extension is inappropriate for financial reasons, and insisted on a three-year extension.

Yet a three-year extension is not one of the BOE's options in the vote scheduled for Tuesday. The charter school insists on eight years, and that's what their application says. So the BOE must either discard Avossa's advice and charter for eight years, or kill it altogether and wait for a new application by the school.

If the county and FSAMS fail to agree on how many years to renew the charter, the school's permission to operate expires in June 2012.

FSAMS originally asked for a 10-year renewal, so eight is already a compromise in their opinion.

It's not clear what FSAMS' strategy will be if they lose their eight-year request. FSAMS governing board member and parent Edith Wichser would not be drawn out on particulars, but said her board "would like to sit down with Dr. Avossa" for more talks.

Avossa wants three years because the middle school has yoked itself into a $19 million bonded building project with two other charter schools:   and Fulton Sunshine Academy. Their charters run out in June, 2015 and Avossa said syncing all three will make the schools easier to oversee.

"We cannot consider the finances of the three schools separately," he said. Because Fulton's 12 charter schools are publicly funded, the board oversees them as well as public schools. In the past few years, two unrelated Fulton charters have failed for financial or operational reasons.

FSAMS parent John Traynor attended the briefing and opined afterward that both sides should be satisfied with an eight-year bond because it would presumably synch the schools during the next charter renewal cycle.

Three isn't enough, he thinks: "it hurts the ability to recruit teachers, it hurts the ability to plan."

But the other two schools might not necessarily get their renewals in a five-year increment next time.

In the past few days, the school and Avossa cleared up another of his objections. The school wanted a broad waiver to enable them to hire personnel not certified in Georgia. The school has backed down and amended their proposal. In line with other schools, they will make more detailed proposals for hiring non-certified staff rather than getting a blanket waiver.

David Davis December 20, 2011 at 04:03 PM
The School Board has a responsibility to place the bests interests of the students above the bureaucratic interests of the Superintendent. Most charters in Fulton County are charters in name only and they make only a casual nod to real parental involvement beyond asking for financial donations. FSAMS is apparently the real deal and while I can understand why that might threaten Avossa, the School Board has a duty, not to students or parents alone but ultimately to Fulton County taxpayers to achieve the best results. I'd vote to approve the charter and tell FSAMS to keep doing what they are doing.
Jim December 21, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Dr. Avossa gets an A in misinformation and an F in educating our kids. Fulton County is at NO RISK regarding the bond. What Avossa really meant to say was that he'd rather close a high performing charter school and send the kids and $$$ to lower performing schools FCBOE run school. The 3 year renewal was a smoke screen to undermine the FSA funding and it's ability to recruit students and teachers. The guy is on the job 6 months and closing FSA his best work? God help the school system with this lack of leadership. The root issue is that a high performing charter competes with the new charter system that the FCBOE is attempting to setup. As a conservative Republican I'm shocked the FCBOE would go in this direction. FSA has made many of the changes I'd like to see in our public schools. Instead of hand cuffing this charter the FCBOE should learn from and support an on-going success story. This is an example of highly paid bureaucratic overhead making decisions with no accountability. I doubt the FCBOE will be successful with their version of a charter system if they remain this restrictive. If Georgia is going to remain competitive and draw tech firms here we need more schools -- we need FSA -- to prepare our kids for high tech careers.
Peggy December 21, 2011 at 03:55 PM
I wonder if the priority for our country is education . Dr. Avoosa I'm still thinking about the poor perfomance of you yesterday.What you saw yesterday is hundreds of citizens showing support for an excellent school and our right of giving our children the best education.We are the taxpayers that you mention so we decided for what our money should be use. Is there a better motivation that our kids EDUCATION?
Smarter Students December 21, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Mywife noticed that FSA was mentioned on "The Today Show" this morning. I hope this story does make national news. After the mess with the Clayton County school system a few years back, then the Atlanta school system more recently, I can't believe Fulton County will be in the news next for shutting down a successful education venture known as Fulton Science Academy Charter School.

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