Georgia's Senate Endorses Lieutenant Governor Cagle's Charter Systems Act and Career Academies Act

February 6, 2007

(Atlanta, GA) – Today, Georgia’s Senate passed Lt. Governor Casey Cagle’s educational initiatives package – the Charter Systems Act and Career Academies Act. Both bills received strong bi-partisan support, passing the chamber by votes of 53-2 and 52-3, respectively, and drew a standing ovation from Senators upon final passage. The bills will be considered by the House before the end of the legislative session.

“Charter Systems and Career Academies have been a priority for me because I believe first and foremost that we will see educational excellence when we untie the hands of our teachers and provide local control to our educational systems. Only then will we begin to meet the needs of the individual child.

“I am grateful my colleagues saw the value of these initiatives and I look forward to passage in the House soon,” Cagle said.

Sen. Ed Tarver (D-Augusta), a co-sponsor of the Charter Systems Act, also expressed his excitement that the legislation passed.  “This bill has the opportunity to enact meaningful reform of public education in Georgia, and I am glad to see that it had such strong, bipartisan support.  The success of charter schools is clear, and I am glad that we are moving forward and creating opportunities to build on that success.”

The Charter Systems bill will fund competitive Charter Systems Implementation Grants of up to $125,000 for planning and incentive cost for school systems that desire to become Charter Systems. The Career Academies bill will provide $1 million in funding for the creation of five new Career Academies, schools where academic courses are accompanied with technical training.

Specifically the Charter Systems Act would:

Allow the state Board of Education to extend the procedures for Charter Schools to entire school systems.

  • Establish a 9 member Charter Advisory Committee to assist with the development of charter policy, review charter petitions to ensure compliance, and to provide recommendations to the Board of Education for approval or denial of a charter petition.
  • The members of the committee will not be paid for their work, but will receive reimbursement for expenses. The members of the committee are chosen as follows: 3 State Board of Education Members chosen by the chairperson of the board; 3 members appointed by the Lt. Governor; 3 members appointed by the Speaker of the House.
  • Charter Systems will be free of all state mandates and many federal mandates-they will not be exempt from federal No Child Left Behind laws or non-discrimination mandates.

The Technical Career Academies Act would:

  • Address barriers of initial construction costs and staff funding costs, thus providing the framework for jumpstarting the establishment of career academies throughout Georgia.
  • Call upon the Department of Technical and Adult Education and the Technical College System of Georgia to facilitate the establishment of new technical career academies in Georgia.
  • DTAE would:
    • Develop a process to enable partnerships consisting of local school system and a technical college to submit proposals to establish technical career academies.
    • Based upon criteria looking at need, local commitment, and success potential, select up to five proposals a year for funding and technical support.
    • Funding of $1million annually in operating funds and $15 million dollars in revolving bond funds would enable each selected partnership to receive $200,000 for initial staffing costs and $3 million in construction/renovation funds to be matched by the local partnership.
  • Local school system-technical college partnerships would:
    • Develop a proposal documenting the need and plan for success of the academy.
    • Develop a joint agreement regarding the joint administration and operation of the academy.
    • Document approval of the academy as a charter school by the local school board for application to the State Board of Education.

Document the source(s) and amount(s) of the necessary construction/renovation matching funds.