Advocating for Autonomy: An Update on the Charter Renewal Debate

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Charter renewal committee answering questions at the meeting.

Lucy Roberts, Staff Writer

On January 13th, most people were at home watching the College Football Championship, but others, some 60 students, parents, alumni, and teachers, were crowded into the Chamblee Charter High School auditorium, trying to understand a decision that will radically affect Chamblee Charter High School’s future. 

Chamblee, which is known as a “conversion” charter school, is currently in the process of trying to renew our current charter, which decides the way the school will function and how reliant it will be on DeKalb County Schools. 

Alex Teh, the chair of Chamblee’s Governing Board, led the meeting by explaining a bit about the presentation to come and the Q&A session that would follow. 

“There are going to be a lot of questions we don’t have the answers to,” said Teh, whose statement ended up summarizing the rest of the night. 

The trouble with renewing the charter, as it was explained to the audience, is that Chamblee would have to become far more independent, or independent enough for CCHS to be deemed as “substantially autonomous”. This would mean that Chamblee would be in complete control of transportation, security, and other aspects of school governing and management.

A school completely reliant on DeKalb County would have no control over these, which means Chamblee would lose the individual control of scheduling, budgets, and curriculum arrangements that we have now if the charter was unable to be renewed. 

Another difficulty with the charter renewal process is that the current charter cannot be extended, requiring the proposed charter to be much different. Because of Chamblee’s current reliance on DCSD, the new charter will need changes that will realistically require extensive discussion. The governing board requested that the 2016 charter be given a one year extension to grant the board time to decide their plan for moving forward. 

DCSD denied this request, leaving Chamblee less than four months to draft a charter renewal plan. Despite the pressure, Teh seemed optimistic about the timeline we have and continued to ask for community support and participation in future meetings. 

Whether Chamblee is able to remain a charter school or not, there are still plenty of questions to be answered about the financial, departmental, and academic changes that would come from continued autonomy. 

This is a continued topic of conversation and will continue to be updated as more decisions are made

 

Below is our previous article regarding the charter & provides some background context for people who are unfamiliar with the issue.

The Ins and Outs of Chamblee’s Charter Controversy