The latest case in point is the city’s application for the renewal of its charter system application. Marietta was one of the first five systems in the state to gain charter school system status back in 2007. Charter systems have more flexibility in designing programs to improve student achievement than “regular” systems do. For example, they can set their own daily and yearly schedules with more leeway that usually allowed by the state. They also allow for greater parental input than traditional schools. And as Dr. Lembeck has said, “Parents in this generation are more empowered than ever to get involved in their children’s school.”
She and her underlings have been working since August on the renewal application, which is due Nov. 1. A response is expected from the state in the spring, and we strongly suspect that based on her track record, it will be favorable.
“It is very straight-forward and exciting, and I think because we’ve been through this process before, there is a great understanding for what it can do for us and what it means to Marietta City Schools,” she said. She adds that charter-system status gives Marietta “the flexibility to really adjust and in many cases even create our identity as public education evolves.”
Among the items on the agenda for the renewal are efforts to lower the number of students who fail multiple grades, increasing the graduation rate and helping students do a better job of transitioning from eighth grade to ninth.
Dr. Lembeck has been at the helm of the 8,000-student city system since 2005 and is not afraid to try new approaches to persistent problems. Not only was it one of the state’s first charter systems, and not only has it strengthened the International Baccalaureate curriculum during her tenure, MCS has implemented “choice” for students and parents, offering a menu of modified curriculums at its K-5 academies and its 3-5 STEM magnet school.
Her efforts have not gone unrecognized. She was named Superintendent of the Year last year by the Georgia School Superintendents Association. And the city school board wisely voted last month to extend her contract by another year.
Next up? Getting the state’s approval on the charter renewal. And we suspect we know what its answer will be.