Albany College and Career Academy Executive Steering Committee Chair Bobby McKinney talks during a called committee meeting Monday at Phoebe Northwest. The committee voted to send its charter petition to the Dougherty County School Board on Wednesday despite the fact that the charter was left off the board agenda.
ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany College and Career Academy's (ACCA) executive steering committee on Monday voted unanimously to push the nascent school's charter draft petition before the Dougherty County School Board for a Wednesday vote.
The ACCA charter is notably absent from the Board's Wednesday agenda and can only come up for a vote if it is placed into consideration with the approval of a majority of the Board.
DCSS Superintendent Joshua Murfree, who had been a charter school supporter for more than a year, reportedly told a group of black ministers last week that he would not place the charter application on Wednesday's agenda, which would effectively kill the ACCA proposal.
Murfree appeared to change his mind after a Tuesday public hearing in which Bishop John Burr and Mt. Zion Baptist Pastor Daniel Simmons roundly criticized repurposing Albany High into the ACCA's eventual new home.
Simmons said passage of the charter school proposal "would take us back to the days of Jim Crow."
At Monday's ACCA meeting, Board member Velvet Riggins pledged to make a motion to place the charter application on the Board agenda.
"This charter school will raise the performance of every student and every high school in Dougherty County," educational consultant Russ Moore said, pointing out how the ACCA would raise graduation rates, help retain students and eventually earn the DCSS additional QBE (Quality Basic Education) money.
The DCSS graduation rate is currently just more than 54 percent and three of the county's four high schools have been listed as "Needs Improvement" for at least three years straight.
Moore pointed to five-year cohort group projections that would see Dougherty High go from a 49 percent graduation rate to 64 percent; Monroe from 47 to 61 and Westover from 65 to 85.
He added that if the system retained 587 students over that same five-year period, the DCSS would also earn an additional $1.9 million in QBE funding.
"What we are talking about here is the revolutionary transformation of an entire school system," said Moore. "We need this facility at Albany High. If we look at the numbers of students who drop out or transfer every three years, you are losing the equivalent of an entire freshman class."
The Board will have a full agenda Wednesday. In addition to what could be a lively debate on the charter school application, the Board will also be voting on its FY 2013 budget.
The Board's pre-briefing is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. with the regular meeting set to begin at 12:30 p.m.