Source: NorthFulton.com

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School board: Fulton Science Academy appeal must wait till May, June
Item not scheduled for action in April meeting of the state BOE

by Candy Waylock

April 10, 2013

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. With May 23 the final day of school in Fulton County, it appears probable a decision on the future of the Fulton Science Academy High School will come just days before that date, putting in flux the academic plans for hundreds of high school students.

Last year, the Fulton School Board voted to terminate the charter with FSA HS on June 30, ending its relationship with the charter school after an eight-year partnership. Because there were two years remaining in the charter agreement, the action must be approved by the Georgia Board of Education (GBOE), following a recommendation from the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE), which is handling the appeal.

FSA HS appealed Fulton's decision to the state in January, but officials with the GDOE noted the process was not complete in time for the GBOE's April 4-5 meeting. The date of the May meeting has not yet been set and state officials are not promising completion of the process even then.

"We completely understand [school ends in Fulton on May 23], but we are also not the only party involved in this process," said Dorie Turner Nolt, spokeswoman for the GDOE. "All work on this issue has to be completed before we can take it to the [state] board. We are still working through the process on FSA HS, but we anticipate it will go before the board in May or June. That's not set in stone, but that is what it looks like right now."

In the meantime, Fulton School System officials are proceeding with plans to assimilate the approximately 200 students in grades 9-11 who may find their current school closed for next year. Enrollment projections for the 2013-2014 school year were released last month and took into account the return of FSA HS students to traditional schools.

However, officials with FSA HS say they are still working on the premise the school will be successful in its appeal to the state and plans to be open next school year. Randall Morgan, chair of the FSA HS Governing Board, points to several academic achievements by its students this year, with several first place winners at the State Technology Fair and a 100 percent pass rate on the state writing exams.

"We continue planning with the expectation that Fulton Science Academy High School will retain its current status as an exemplary charter school as evidenced by our students who continue to academically outperform their state and national peers," said Morgan.

However, minutes of the board meeting show about a 7 percent decline in enrollment following the Fulton School Board's action in December, and an open house for prospective students in the spring was canceled because of the uncertainty of the appeal. FSA HS had an enrollment of 250 students at the start of the school year.

Last year, its sister school, Fulton Science Academy Middle School, lost its public school charter and converted to a private school. Morgan did not comment on whether plans have been made to follow the same route for the high school.