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State Charter Schools Commission approves Spring Creek Charter Academy petition

Replication of highly-successful
Pataula Charter Academy to open in the 2019-20 school year


The State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia (SCSC) has announced that it approved Spring Creek Charter Academy, a replication of the highly-successful state charter school Pataula Charter Academy, to open in the 2019-20 school year. The new school will serve students in Decatur, Miller and Seminole Counties.

“For years Pataula Charter Academy has served as a lighthouse school in its community, providing a high-quality public school option for students in southwest Georgia,” said State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia Executive Director Bonnie Holliday. “We are delighted that more Georgia students will have access to Pataula’s high-level, rigorous academic experience through Spring Creek Charter Academy.”

Spring Creek Charter Academy will use the Expeditionary Learning model currently utilized at Pataula Charter Academy, located in Edison, Georgia. This “learning by doing” approach features project-based, cross-curricular instruction and incorporates the use of fieldwork and experts. The school will initially serve up to 276 students in grades K-5 and will add one grade level each year, eventually serving students in grades K-12.

“Pataula Charter Academy is grateful the State Charter Schools Commission approved the petition for Spring Creek Charter Academy,” said Kylie Holley, Superintendent of Pataula Charter Academy. “We are excited about expanding our educational program to more students in southwest Georgia and plan to build on our proven record of success.”

Seminole County School Superintendent Brinson Register commented that students in Southwest Georgia and Seminole County already have a high quality public school option in the Seminole County School system. Register offered the following comments on the approval of the area’s new charter school academy.

“I have received countless comments and questions from the public concerning the new charter school moving into the area.  Most people want to know what Pataula can offer that Seminole County does not already offer.  Providing an adequate answer to these questions is a struggle.   What I will say is this… Seminole County will always strive to provide the best education possible for the children in Seminole County. There is no substitute for a ‘locally’ controlled public education system.  The Seminole County School System has successfully educated children from all walks of life who have now become successful adults and citizens.  Our local hospital, for example, is full of doctors, nurses, managers, book keepers, accountants, technicians, and support staff who are products of the Seminole County School System. Virtually every business in Donalsonville and Seminole County is operated and maintained by adults who attended our local school system.  Whether you are a business owner, employee of a local business, self-employed, an educator, a first responder, a “stay at home mom”, or a “working mom”, or a retiree, there is a strong likelihood you were educated by the Seminole County School System.”

Pataula Charter Academy (PCA) has endeavored to compare itself with the Seminole County School System and Register comments that a genuine comparison between PCA and schools in the Seminole County School System is impossible to achieve for one simple reason.  “PCA does not educate the entire student population of their surrounding service area.  PCA educates roughly 580 selective students from their service area compared to roughly 1,500 students in Seminole County. Their student population is comprised of pupils who are selected using a lottery which has a ‘weighting’ system that provides for the preferential selection of certain students.  Their new Spring Creek Charter School will use the same preferential selection process.  Seminole County School System, however, provides an outstanding educational opportunity for every student who resides in Seminole County.  Furthermore, PCA boasts about their superior test scores compared to Seminole County.”

PCA’s test scores are a reflection of their selective enrollment process, while Seminole County’s test scores are based on the entire student population of Seminole County.  However, despite the vast differences between the student populations of PCA and Seminole County, Seminole County performs far better than PCA in many areas.  Register also stated that PCA does have achievement scores which are above Seminole County in certain subjects; however, an overall comparison reveals that Seminole County out performs PCA in many subjects and grade levels.

Register added, “Test scores aside, what produces well-rounded students is a well-rounded educational experience. Seminole County strives to provide a well-rounded educational experience. The educational experience Seminole County offers includes a plethora of opportunities for children to experience.  One cannot begin to compare the overall experience Seminole County provides to that of PCA.  Simply put, Seminole County operates in a different league compared to PCA when assessing the overall, holistic educational opportunity provided to students. Seminole County’s many athletic activities, fine arts, career and technical programs, FBLA, FFA, FCCLA, music, and band programs are second to none.  There is no parallel comparison between Seminole County and Pataula which can be assessed.”

The State Charter School Commission petition review process for replication schools included an in-depth staff review of the new school’s petition and budget, as well as an analysis of the original school’s performance history in the areas of academics, finance and operations. A panel of staff and commissioners interviews petitioners and makes a recommendation to approve or deny the petition to SCSC commissioners. At all points of the review process, staff and commissioners accept feedback from local community officials. Commissioners voted to approve the petition at the September 26th State Charter Schools Commission meeting.

Including this approval, the SCSC has authorized 36 state charter schools located throughout the state. 29 schools are currently operational and seven are scheduled to open in the 2019-2020 school year. More information about the SCSC, current state charter schools and the petition process is available on the SCSC website.

The SCSC is a state-level, independent charter school authorizing entity. The mission of the SCSC is to improve public education by authorizing high quality charter schools that provide students with better educational opportunities than they would otherwise receive in traditional district schools. The SCSC has the power to approve or deny petitions for state charter schools and renew, non-renew, or terminate state charter school petitions in accordance with Georgia law.

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