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Fulton County Schools Rejects Fulton Science Academy's Request to Approve 3-Year Charter

Unless a state charter can be obtained, the middle schools likely will be closed during the 2012-13 school year at the very least.

UPDATED 5:15 P.M., DEC. 22: The Fulton School System rejected a request by the Fulton Science Academy Middle School's governing board to approve a three-year charter renewal that the school's governing board said met all of Superintendent Robert Avossa's requirements.

The school system will review the latest charter revision during the school's annual petition application, which doesn't begin until March 2012.

"Any approved charters would begin operations during the 2013-2014 school year," the latest release by Fulton School Board President Linda Schultz and Avossa today said. (Read the full release, attached as a pdf to this article.)

If the school board doesn't change its mind, or the state doesn't grant a charter, Fulton Science Academy Middle School will be closed during the next school year.

"Superintendent Avossa has begun working with staff to develop a transition plan that will assist our Fulton Science Academy Middle School families with their next steps," the school system's release, emailed at 5:03 p.m., said.

The charter school's governing board announced earlier on Dec. 22, that it was sending the Fulton School Board the revised charter application that meets all of Superintendent Robert Avossa's requirements.

The revision cuts the .

"We are taking this action to be sure to continue to support our students, teachers and staff members," said Ayhan Korucu, president of the Fulton Science Academy Middle School governing board. "We felt that compromise was in the best interest of our community."

He said taking this action would hurt the school's finance long term.

"Let me reiterate that our submission today is for exactly the terms dictated by Dr. Avossa at the school board meeting Tuesday night," Korucu said.

What Fulton County Schools does is out of their control, he said.

Fulton County School System administrative officers are closed for the holiday, and will be closed from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, according to a release sent today that's also posted online.

State Reps. Chuck Martin and Harry Geisinger, and state Sen. John Albers participated in the press conference at the publicly funded charter school, saying the Fulton School Board made the wrong decision.

Martin, the parent of two Fulton County School system graduates, replied to a question on whether Fulton Schools felt threatened by the high-performing middle school.

"You're darn right I think they're afraid of competition," he said.

Martin said a Fulton County Schools board member told him the school system was looking at reintegrating the charter school's students for a while, but the charter decision was made two days ago.

"Now you explain to me how that's a good faith look at their petition," he said.

Patch could not confirm this board member's comment, and Martin did not offer up the board member's name.

Martin promised legislative remedies to prevent school boards from denying charter renewals for schools that were meeting or exceeding all performance standards. He would make the charter renewals automatic unless the schools did not meet those requirements.

"I would sponsor that bill in the Senate," Albers said.

The bonds for this new school were downgraded yesterday and again today at a tune of a $2 million loss to those who invested in them, many of which are right here in Alpharetta and in North Fulton county," Albers said.

Korucu said they didn't change their application to a three-year term before today because the longer term was the right thing to do, and the Fulton School Board could have approved the longer term against staff's recommendation. Now they must change it to keep the school open for the students.

The press conference also was occasion for the governing board to announce a $2 million private fund drive to make up the funds if the Fulton School Board does not renew the school's charter. Corporate, small business and personal donations will be sought, and the school's website has been updated to allow for these donations to be made online.

Angela Lasseter, a parent representative on the Fulton Science Academy governing board, said the charter denial affects the community through the $19 million new school construction project, costing jobs and even using foreclosed land for the site.

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