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Curious parents quiz charter officials
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Charter School USA representative Sandy Castro talks to parents Thursday night. - photo by Jennifer Sami
What's next
The next charter school meeting is set for 7 p.m. March 26 at the Polo Golf and Country Club, 6300 Polo Club Drive. For more information, e-mail or go online at or

Parent questions were so steady and complex over two hours Thursday night that Sandy Castro and Danny Brewington did not get to present their full presentation.

The two Charter Schools USA representatives spoke to about 10 people during the first of two public meetings designed to gauge parent interest in starting a charter school in Forsyth County.

A charter school is a public school that’s privately managed. The proposed Forsyth school, which could open as soon as 2010, would include kindergarten through eighth grade, Brewington said. Parents could choose to send their children to there instead of an in-district school.

The school could set its own curriculum and teaching rules, among other flexibilities. With the freedom from state mandates, however, comes increased accountability, which must be agreed to in a contract with the local and state school boards.

This is not Charter Schools USA’s first go-round in Forsyth.

Last year, the local school board denied the Florida-based company's petition for reasons ranging from an unrealistic timeline and unchallenging performance objectives to duplication of services and contradictory or inadequate goals.

Neither the school board’s previous concerns nor many parent questions, including how the school would measure success and choose its governing board, were addressed Thursday night.

Though open to the idea of the charter school, Forsyth County Schools Board member Nancy Roche said she found herself in the same predicament as parents.

“The question is -- which is the question that everybody kept asking [Thursday] night -- what can you offer that Forsyth County doesn’t have,’” she said.

“I don’t think they really answered that yet for me. And even for the group there, I don’t think they answered that question yet.”

Among the potential differences at the proposed charter school would be mandatory uniforms and at least 20 hours of volunteer service per year from all parents.

Castro noted the first meeting was just to gauge interest from parents. For the March 26 meeting, however, she said she would do her best to bring the company’s education team to field the more specific questions.

Because the growth in Forsyth has slowed, both Roche and Castro said managing overcrowding isn’t as urgent of a priority as it once was.