The meeting of the Tucker Parent Council was devoted to learning more about the Druid Hills Charter Cluster, DHCC. Druid Hills Charter board member Scott Bonder spoke to the meeting about the process they went through to get the cluster charter petition to the Board of Education, BOE, for approval.
The process started with a strategic assessment of the issues facing Druid Hills High School. One of the findings was the issues in the high school really stemmed from issues in the feeder schools and the conclusion that the whole Druid Hills cluster would need to be changed to address the issues at the high school.
A Conversion Charter Cluster has to follow the same laws as the local school district, but is “slightly set apart from the BOE” for a special purpose. The BOE cedes some control which allows the charter schools within the cluster more flexibility in programs offered to the students.
The goal of the DHCC is to offer different programs such as STEAM, IB, and Montessori at different elementary schools to create school choice within the cluster. All of these programs will eventually be offered in the middle and high school so a student can stay within a program their whole academic career.
DHCC will be in charge of hiring of staff, however teacher salaries must remain within the state guidelines. Mr. Bond mentioned providing bonuses for good teachers, but did not mention where the money for those bonuses would come from.
BOE member Marshall Orson was in attendance and helped to answer questions related to the differences between a “start up” charter and a “conversion” charter. I wish I could explain them to you, but I really don’t understand. He also clarified where the DHCC petition is in the process of approval. It has been received by the BOE which has 90 days to either approve or disapprove. According to Mr. Orson the BOE can only consider two questions when deciding how to vote, does the petition meet the state requirements, and is the petition in the public interest.
If the BOE approves the charter petition, it then goes to the state charter commission for approval. If the BOE denies the petition it has thirty days to specify why it was denied. The petitioners can then amend the petition and reapply, or they can submit their petition to the state to be a start up charter. Mr. Orson stated he thought the BOE would vote on the DHCC petition in November.
The audience asked a number of pointed questions which facilitated a good discussion. The whole meeting was very informative.
The next Tucker Parent Council meeting will be on Nov. 4 and feature Rick Clark from the admissions office of Georgia Tech. He will speak on navigating the college admissions process. Please follow the Tucker Parent Council Facebook page or visit their website http://www.tuckerparentcouncil.com/.