New group makes pitch for charter school

ALBANY -- Nearly five months after the Dougherty County Board of Education shot down a proposed college and career academy, Northside Elementary Counselor Tyjuana Burton made a pitch to the board for a new charter school for the county.

Burton, representing a group that wants to establish the Albany Charter Academy of Scholars (ACAS), presented her plan to the School Board, saying the proposed charter school had the backing of Superintendent Joshua Murfree.

"I know that everyone has an opinion, but I am asking you to please keep an open mind," Burton told the board. "We want to work in partnership with the district and focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in grades K through five. We want to make the children excited and foster a passion about learning."

Burton provided few details in regard to the new charter school other than to say the idea took seed in 2008 and the group -- comprising Teresa Anthony, Roderick Hubbard, Barbara Tyler, Tuwanna Edwards and Jeffery Gilmore -- began the application process last year.

If approved by the board, the group hopes to open the ACAS in early 2014.

Elisa Falco, the Georgia Charter Schools Association's director of education and training, encouraged the board to seriously consider the proposed new school.

"We want to spread the success of this new charter all across the district and close the achievement gap," she said.

Later, Burton spoke about The ACAS's goals and pointed to Baconton and Pataula charter schools as examples.

"We want to start at the beginning, with K through fifth grade, like Baconton and Pataula," she said. "We are starting early because we want to develop instead of repair."

Asked what the major difference was between the ACAS and the recently failed college and career academy proposal, Burton replied, "I am not aware of what the differences are right now because I have nothing to compare the two."

In other business, Murfree said the state Department of Education had decided to move forward with the funding of nearly $2 million in SIG (School Improvement Grant) funding at Albany High School after he said the district had satisfied the state's demand for information.

The board also granted and easement to a group wanting gain access to property located on Wildwood Court near Live Oak Elementary.

The board agreed to turn the road over to the county and to take bids on a three-quarter acre surplus parcel adjacent to the property.

The next DCSS board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14 at 11:30 a.m. at Sylvester Road Elementary.