Charter school doesn't want to be excluded - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Charter school doesn't want to be excluded

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September 1, 2006

Baconton -- Mitchell County School leaders want voters to pass a penny sales tax that's up for renewal this month. The tax would help re-build schools and enhance technology in the classroom. But parents at one Mitchell County school feel they will be left out.

It's the end of the school day for students at Baconton Charter School. It's the small, warm-environment that attracted parent Jim Haley. "Everybody gets involved. You know all the parents, know all the teachers."

He feels his two children are challenged every time they come to school. "If they're more accelerated, they go to the accelerated classes and they teach them at their level of learning so I decided we'll go ahead and put them in there."

That's why he says a penny sales tax to benefit school would be a good thing, but he was shocked to hear Baconton Charter isn't on the priority list to get funds from the tax.

Mitchell County School Superintendent Beauford Hicks says the $14 million that the tax would generate would be used to re-build an elementary school, purchase additional technology, and pay on the system's debt.

When asked about Baconton, Hicks told us "The law does not specify that we divide the money amongst individual schools. Baconton's school building is not owned by the district."

"But we are considered part of the Mitchell Co. school system and they count our children to receive their monies that they garner for the school system, but they don't want to feed that back to us," said Sam Holton, who serves on Baconton's in-house board of education.

"We feel we are not being treated as fairly as the other schools in the district," said Holton.

Many parents here feel that way and it may show in their vote September 19th. Haley remains optimistic. "I'd love to see it voted in," Haley said. "I'd love to see the funds distributed evenly per student and Baconton get their share or at least a portion of the share."

At this point, Baconton Charter school is not on the district's priority list of funding. "The people on the local board have to live with their decisions," said Holton. Yet voters make the final decision when they head to the polls.

There are 658 students in the Baconton charter school in grades pre-K through 12. Baconton's principal says the school operates out of an old building, and over half of the students attend class in portables.

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