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District backs neighbor in charter fight
Courts will get final say
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Forsyth County News
Other business

Also Thursday night, Forsyth County's school board:

• Reviewed the first draft of the 2010-11 school calendar. Public input will be accepted for two weeks on the school system’s Web site, Feedback will be presented during a Nov. 12 work session, with a final vote set for Nov. 19.

• Approved the county’s Full Time Equivalent, or FTE, membership. The current rate of increase in students is about 2,157 students a year. FTE numbers are used to determine state funding. The projected FTE for the current school year shows 34,245 full-time students, up from 32,088 last year.

• Reappointed board member Mike Dudgeon as the district’s legislative liaison for the Georgia School Board Association.

-- Jennifer Sami
The Forsyth County school board took a stand against public funding for charter schools Thursday, expressing its support for a neighboring school system.

The local resolution essentially backs the Gwinnett County Board of Education, which recently voted against allowing a charter school to open in its district.

Gwinnett's decision was then overruled by the newly created Georgia Charter Schools Commission.

The Gwinnett charter school has since opened and is receiving state money that would otherwise have gone to the school system.

Forsyth's resolution was not unanimous, with board member Mike Dudgeon opposed in the 4-1 vote.

Dudgeon said while he supports the idea of local control for charter schools, “I have a hard time taking a strong statement stance against the efforts to add more charter schools to the state."

“I understand where this is coming from, but I think public schools sometimes complain too much about attempts to do things differently,” he said.

Board member Tom Cleveland said the problem is charter schools divert state money from the county.

“This is operations money. This is our operations budget they’re taking away from us,” he said. “If [a charter] is that innovative and it’s that pronounced, we need to be doing it here in this county.”

Following the vote, Forsyth County School Superintendent Buster Evans said judges will have the final say in Gwinnett's lawsuit.

Forsyth, he noted, could be affected by a court ruling on the matter, as Charter Schools USA has twice unsuccessfully applied to open a school in the county.

In rejecting the attempts, the local board's stance has been that the proposed charter school would not have offered anything significantly

If the commission’s decision in Gwinnett is upheld, Evans said, it could trickle down to Forsyth.

He said charter schools “ought to have that option of choice to do something else,” but should be held to the same levels of accountability and standards as public schools.

“I think the question in this case is should they be given local taxpayer dollars to fund their programming," Evans said. "And my only comment about that is everybody needs to play from a level playing field and there needs to be equal accountabilities.”

He supported the local resolution, which will join those from other members of the Georgia School Board Association.

But ultimately, Evans said, ‘It’s not going to make a difference as to the constitutionality decision made by the judge. But it’s a nice show of support."