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Official explains charter-system school teams
Liberty BoE 1
The Liberty County School System is in for major changes as it transitions to a charter system. - photo by File photo

Community members heard more about how school-governance teams will be formed, and how they will function, during a recent community forum concerning the district’s transition to becoming a charter system.

All school systems have until June 30 to decide on one of three so-called flexibility options offered by Georgia: charter system; Investing in Educational Excellence, or IE2; or status quo. Earlier this school year, the Liberty County Board of Education opted to become a charter system.

Both the charter and IE2 models require the districts to enter into performance contracts with the state Department of Education in which the districts set — and are required to meet — academic and other goals. In exchange, these districts are granted waivers from a number of state requirements, such as class-size limits.

Charter-system contracts also include a list of innovations the district will implement to enable it to meet its academic goals and the establishment of school-governance teams. IE2 leaves more power at the district level and has been the more-popular option among southeast Georgia school systems, including Bryan and Long counties.

Districts choosing status quo do not have to increase their accountability goals with the state, but they also will no longer be granted waivers from class-size limits and other state spending mandates as they have been since the economic downturn of 2008.

Susan Avant, the Liberty County School System’s executive director for student services, explained that the district’s charter application to the state initially called for a five-member school-governance team. But after receiving recommendations from the Department of Education and community stakeholders, the application was revised to increase the school-governance team to seven members. The number was increased to make sure that enough people would be available to make decisions at any given time.

Under the amended application, school-governance teams will consist of: the principal, one certified employee, one classified employee, three parents of students currently enrolled at that school, and a community or business partner. The parents on the teams have to reflect their school’s population.

“There are different ways it can be done. For example, if I’m in a middle school, I can have one parent that represents the seventh grade and another for eighth,” Avant explained. “Or if I’m in a school where 60 to 70 percent are military, then I would want two of my parents to be military connected or impacted. Each building is unique, which is why there are some options.”  

The charter system gives the governance team authority and decision-making power over school operations. Members will make recommendations to the principal regarding the budget, school-improvement plans, resource allocation, curriculum and instruction, and personnel decisions.

For example, Avant said that if a school were seeking a new principal, the governance team would sit in on the interviews and make a recommendation to the superintendent.

The team will select members to serve as co-chairs — except the principal, who cannot serve in either role. Avant added that a school employee cannot be a parent member on the team.

“For example, if I worked at my child’s school, I cannot be the parent representative on that team. We want to make sure that we’re really giving a voice and the decision-making where it really needs to be. So I can serve as a staff member but not serve as a parent,” she explained.

Other than the principal, governance-team positions are elected. The Liberty County School System charter application states: “The faculty or staff representatives on each SGT will be voted on by secret ballot by the faculty or staff of the respective school. Other members of the initial School Governance Teams will be elected by secret ballot by the parents of students at the school.”

Team members will serve three-year terms, except for the principal; and parent positions will have staggered terms after the first election. Avant explained that this is to avoid losing parent members all at once when their children graduate. One parent will serve for one year, another for two years, and the third for three years. Subsequent elections will have parents serve for three years.

Avant said that parents interested in serving on the school-governance team must contact the principal of their child’s school. The first governance-team election will take place this month. Training will start in June that will focus on helping members make decisions on school operations.

All governance-team members have to comply with the duties and responsibilities laid out in the charter, which can be found on the school system website at

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