Liberty County public schools soon may change the way they operate to comply with the Flexibility and Accountability Act for Student Achievement, which requires school districts to select a specific school model.
School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee told school-board members Tuesday they must consider whether the district should keep its current or “status quo” system, become a charter system or operate as an IE2 (Investing in Educational Excellence) school system. The BoE must notify the Georgia Department of Education of its decision by June 30, 2015, Lee said.
The superintendent told the board she is “leaning toward” recommending a charter system for Liberty County schools. She said she would present them with a formal recommendation next month.
“There are (18) school districts in our RESA region,” Lee said. “Four have not determined which way they want to go; we are one of those.”
Lee said most of the area’s systems are going to the charter-system school model and one has selected the IE2 type of system.
First District RESA (Regional Educational Service Agency) serves the Appling, Bulloch, Bryan, Camden, Candler, Savannah-Chatham, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Vidalia-City and Wayne school systems, according to fdresa.org.
“A charter system is a local school district that operates under the terms of a charter between the State Board of Education and the local school district,” gadoe.org states. “The system receives flexibility from certain state rules and regulations in exchange for greater accountability. There is an emphasis on school-based leadership and decision-making.”
The superintendent stressed that the school board’s authority would not be diminished by going to a charter system. Her authority as superintendent would be shared with schools in a charter system, she said.
Lee said LCSS would receive financial savings from various waivers under the charter system. She added that the QBE amount per student would increase up to $87 per pupil if LCSS becomes a charter system.
Lee said the IE2 school model also would allow the district certain waivers from state rules.
Four major waivers Lee mentioned regarded mandated class size, the 65 percent law, certification and salary schedule requirements. The 65 percent law was passed in 2006, and required a school system to direct 65 percent of its total operating funds into direct classroom expenditures “by 2 or 3 more percentage points over the previous fiscal year or until they are in compliance,” according to the Georgia Department of Education.
Lee told the board she did not feel the IE2 school model would be the best fit for LCSS. According to the state education department, if an IE2 system does not meet its performance goals for at least three consecutive years of its multi-year contract, the district would lose governance of those schools.
“The local board of education may decide to a) convert those schools to charter schools, b) transfer governance to a non-profit or for-profit education organization, or c) allow a nearby, successful school district to assume governance responsibilities,” gadoe.org states.
Gwinnett, Forsyth and Rabun counties have approved IE2 contracts, according to the state Department of Education.