Fayette School System asks, ‘What shall we become?’
To be or not to be was the question before the Fayette County Board of Education Monday night.
The school board in the coming months has to decide which type of state-mandated school system the county will have: an Investing in Education Excellence system, also known as IE2 (IE-squared), a charter system or one that maintains the status quo.
Superintendent Jody Barrow at the Monday school board meeting re-introduced the three options that first surfaced in 2009, saying the school board should decide on a course of action as soon as possible.
The board will hear a detailed presentation in April, followed by a recommendation from Barrow in the coming months.
School boards across Georgia have until June 30, 2015 to notify the Ga. Dept. of Education the direction they will take. Unlike the current “status quo” that is operational across Georgia today, the IE2 and charter systems are designed to provide local school systems greater flexibility and more accountability.
Status quo systems, like those which exist today, would see no changes. There is no performance contract, no freedom from Ga. (Dept. of Education) DOE and Ga. State Board of Education (SBOE) guidelines and no waivers, and thus no financial savings except in cases of a natural disaster.
According to DOE, an IE2 system is a local district that has a five-year performance contract with the SBOE which is reviewed annually. An IE2 system grants the district freedom through waivers from some of Georgia’s education laws, rules and guidelines such as class size, control of expenditures, certification and salary schedule requirements.
IE2 gives school systems additional flexibility to innovate in exchange for increased academic accountability. The contract between the district and SBOE is monitored by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.
A potential disadvantage of the IE2 system is that the district can lose governance over schools that fail to meet established targets.
By definition, a charter system is one free from nearly all SBOE rules and state guidelines. The charter is a performance contract between the district and SBOE that grants flexibility to the district to innovate in exchange for increased academic accountability.
Unlike IE2 systems, charter systems require a move to local school governance and feature school-based leadership and decision-making. A charter system requires school-level autonomy and accountability, can benefit from financial savings through waivers and may obtain an $87 funding supplement per student.
A charter system also operates on a five-year contract that is reviewed annually.
As with IE2 systems, a charter system must meet contract goals and exceed state averages and previous system performance. Failure to do so leads to the charter being revoked and the school system reverts to the status quo model.
So who loses power if Fayette moves to a charter system where individual schools see an increase in governance?
According to DOE, the four responsibilities of a school board include adopting a strategic plan, adopting a budget, hiring the superintendent and holding the superintendent accountable for implementing the strategic plan within budget.
It is the superintendent’s authority that is shared with schools in a charter system, said DOE.
Along with more detail on the IE2, charter and status quo systems to be presented in April, the presentation will also include information on a “system of charter schools” and “system of charter clusters.”