December 23, 2013ALPHARETTA, Ga. Just days after receiving approval from the Fulton County Board of Education, the governing board of the Fulton Science Academy High School (FSA HS) has opted to suspend its pursuit of becoming a state charter school beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.
Under state rules, existing charter schools must receive a waiver from the local school board to apply to become a state-commissioned charter school. FSA HS still has nearly 18 months remaining on its charter contract with Fulton Schools.
During the Fulton School Board's Dec. 12 meeting, the waiver request from FSA HS was approved unanimously. However, after discussion at a meeting on Dec. 18, the governing board of FSA HS opted not to proceed with the application.
In a letter to parents outlining the decision not to pursue state charter status, Principal Namik Sercan said there were numerous factors that led to the decision.
"While there are good arguments for and against seeking a state charter, the FSA HS Governing Board elected to withhold our application for a state charter this year," he wrote. "In weighing the pros and cons, it became clear that keeping our charter with Fulton County is the better choice for now. Ultimately, we will have to make a decision on our charter next fall."
The high school currently has an enrollment of 173 students. During the first month of its recruitment for students next year, Sercan said more than 150 students have submitted applications.
The relationship between the Fulton School System and FSA HS has been a rocky one for the past few years, although Sercan noted it is improving.
"We have worked hard to bridge our differences with the school district and are grateful for their willingness to work with us," said Sercan. "It's too soon to know where things will end up, but progress is being made."
Last December, the Fulton Board of Education voted to terminate the school's charter based on what it perceived as operational and financial deficiencies.
After six months of deliberation, the State Board of Education the ultimate authority in terminating local charters opted in June to send the issue back to Fulton Schools for additional information.
Since then, FSA HS has continued to operate as a Fulton charter school and is actively recruiting students for the 2014-2015 school year. For its part, the Fulton School Board has opted not to take any further action toward a termination, and will apparently allow the charter school to continue its final two years of operation under the current charter.
Moving forward into its extended future, FSA HS has two options before it. It can still apply to become a state-commissioned charter school or work to renew its charter with the Fulton County Board of Education beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.
A spokesperson for Fulton Schools indicated FSA HS must submit its request for renewal by September in order to be considered for a renewal. The state charter application has a separate timetable.