Prospective operators were to hand-deliver or mail their requests to Georgia’s Charter School Commission by the end of business Friday. The deadline marked the latest milestone in the state’s expansion of non-traditional public schools.
The commission had received 11 petitions as of 4:30 p.m. Friday, according to Gregg Stevens, general counsel for the commission. Stevens said more were possible, arriving by mail in the coming days.
Schools and operators submitting applications for this round of charters won’t open until at least the 2014-15 school year. Final decisions on the charters won’t come until this fall.
Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment last fall recreating the charter commission, which can issue charters to independent operators over the objections of local school boards. The charter schools are financed with taxpayer money but run privately, free from most rules and regulations that govern traditional campuses.
The state Supreme Court had disbanded a previous version of the commission that the legislature created by law. The court based its ruling on a constitutional provision that gives local school boards control of public schools in Georgia, including issuing charters for independent schools. The amendment effectively overruled that decision, allowing charter applicants to bypass local officials.
According to its plans, state authorities will interview applicants in September and release a list of recommended charters in October. The commission is scheduled to vote Oct. 30 on whether to grant the charters. The state Board of Education, which is a panel of Gov. Nathan Deal’s appointees, selected the commissioners from nominees that Deal and other elected officials submitted.
Charter operators can range from national for-profit companies or nonprofit entities to local groups formed by parents, teachers and educators who want to run a single campus. Georgia law requires charter recipients to be nonprofit organizations based in the state, but the law allows the applicant to contract with for-profit management firms.
In an earlier application cycle, the commission cleared 15 existing schools for charters that will cover the upcoming school year.