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.