Two new state charter special schools will open this month and there is a good chance their names sound familiar – Ivy Preparatory Academy at DeKalb (for girls) and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy at DeKalb.
Monday morning the state board of education approved special school charters for Ivy Prep to operate kindergarten-to-6th grade boys and girls schools in the former Peachtree Hope Charter School location on Memorial Drive in DeKalb County. Ivy Prep will continue to operate its original 6th-to-9th grade all-girls Academy in Norcross.
Ivy Prep was among 15 schools whose charters became invalid three months ago when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the state charter schools commission was unconstitutional. That ruling set off a firestorm nationally and it created a significant challenge for 15,000 students who planned to attend those schools this fall.
Some former commission schools applied for local school district charters; others opted for state special school charters. Ivy is unique; it will operate in Norcross with a Gwinnett local charter and in DeKalb as a state charter because the DeKalb school board turned down the Ivy application. Ivy applied to the state only after the local board rejection in a July 11 vote.
Ivy expects to enroll about 600 girls this fall in Norcross. The twin state charters will allow Ivy to enroll up to 265 boys and 265 girls in the new DeKalb academies. Some are expected to be former Peachtree Hope Charter students. “A lot of the Peachtree parents were asking about this,” said Louis Erste, director at the state charter schools division.
State special charters receive between $2,800 and $3,500 per pupil state funds but no local dollars so per pupil funding is lower than local charter schools or traditional brick-and-mortar schools receive. Differences also occur because elementary students are funded at higher levels than high school students. There is also an adjustment for special education students.
Today is also the applications deadline for organizations that are seeking state special school charters to open in fall 2012. At mid-morning the state Department of Education had four applications, including two new KIPP Academy schools in Atlanta. DeKalb Preparatory Academy submitted an application, as did a proposed Latin Academy Charter in Atlanta.
The charter schools division was awaiting possible 2012 applications from Chattahoochee Hills Charter School in south Fulton County, and also Heron Bay Academy in Locust Grove.
The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)