ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Dougherty County School System announced Thursday afternoon that the State Board of Education (SBOE) approved its application to become a Charter School System.
This allows DCSS to avoid many restrictions on local school systems, in exchange for improvements in student achievement and innovation at the school level.
Phase I of the Charter System will begin in the 2016-2017 school year.
The GaDOE has required systems to re-think the way they do business and decide whether they wished to stay as they were – keeping all the regulations and protocols in place – or take the bold step to shed some state regulations to maximize student successes in exchange for increased accountability for school improvement.
The DCSS went one step further, choosing arguably the most difficult path in terms of preparation and complexity, but one that allows parents and community stakeholders to have more of a say in education.
"We knew this process was going to be a lot of work for our people, but we also knew that we needed to get our parents and community more involved in our schools," Superintendent Dr. David C. Mosely said. "Staying status quo just simply wasn't an option for us and the middle option – becoming a strategic waiver system – didn't go far enough. So we're going all in for our students and community and we're confident this will pay off."
The biggest difference between the two flexibility options – strategic waiver system and charter school system – is the creation of Local School Governance Teams or LSGTs. These groups are attached to each school in the system and, while they include the school principal and a small number of school-system employees, they're anchored by a handful of parents and community leaders.
Ultimately, these LSGTs will have input on school-related decisions including financial priorities and personnel recommendations; school improvement plans and opportunities for school innovations.
In its application process, the system identified some of its chief challenges and opportunities and then spelled out ways it intends to address those challenges. Dr. Ufot Inyang, DCSS Associate Superintendent for Academic Services, believes that some of these ideas, which include overhauling the Pre-K model and creating new and engaging ways to reach the district's broad student population, can fundamentally change the way students in Dougherty County learn.
"The emphasis here is on innovation," Inyang said. "With the charter system, we've been training and teaching our school administrators to approach their jobs in a new way; to radically re-think the educational process and share that philosophy with their teachers."
Thursday's approval comes after system officials, LSGT members and community leaders made a presentation to the SBOE's Charter Committee on Wednesday, prompting the committee to put the charter system application on the agenda for the full board for consideration.
with information from the DCSS