What is a Charter System?
There are 48 school districts in Georgia that are “Charter Systems.” This means that the local board of education and the state board of education have signed an agreement (referred to as a “charter” contract). The charter grants the schools flexibility to operate free of state mandates and rules. The 48 districts include the smallest (Taliaferro County with 170 students) and two of the largest, Fulton and Atlanta.
Key Aspects of a Charter System Performance Contract
Granted broad flexibility
(waiver of Title 20 mandates and State Board rules)
Committed to higher performance goals (academic achievement, school climate, fiscal soundness)
Committed to decision-making at school-house level
(School Governance Teams comprised of parents, community members, teachers, and principals)
Purpose (from the Bylaws):
The Charter System Foundation, Inc. was founded on the belief that meaningful change in education can occur only if principals, teachers, parents, and community partners are empowered with the authority and flexibility to make decisions at the school house level to best meet the individual needs of each student.
Georgia’s Charter Systems include a cross-section of systems from the smallest and poorest rural system to a large metro system. They seek flexibility under state mandates and in turn commit to meet higher performance goals. They believe that the current “top-down” model that imposes mandates and inflexibility from above must be replaced with a “bottom-up” culture of flexibility, empowerment, and accountability at the schoolhouse level.
Background and Leadership
In 2007, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle enlisted the help of Senate Education Chair Dan Weber to draft the Charter System Act to afford systems across Georgia the opportunity to choose system-wide flexibility under state mandates to enable innovation at the local level.
Five years later, in 2012, the Lieutenant Governor and Senator Weber met with all sixteen charter system superintendents to propose the idea of forming a nonprofit to support the good work being done by Charter Systems. The Foundation was incorporated in February 2013 and is now qualified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
48 FOUNDATION SYSTEMS IN GA
Foundation Affiliates shown in gold. Click on dot to link to Affiliate’s website.