Category Archives: School Choice

DeKalb – SWSS – Strategic Waiver School System

Stan Jester
Board Of Education
District 1

The Board of Education will meet on December 7  to discuss a number of things including various charter related items. In addition to the Chamblee Charter High School and Destiny Academy charters renewal petitions, Superintendent Green will request that the board approve a letter of intent to become a  Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS).
The Georgian Educator posted Kirk Lunde’s thoughts arguing for a district of Charter Clusters as a way to holistically help students and families in DCSS.
Here are Dr. Stephen Green’s thoughts on the Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS).

Superintendent Stephen Green

School Flexibility Option Update
From: Dr. R Stephen Green
DeKalb Schools Superintendent

The Board will be presented with an opportunity to adopt a resolution supporting a Strategic Waiver School System (SWSS) Letter of Intent at the December 7, 2015, Business Meeting. This Letter of Intent will allow the District to notify the Georgia Department of Education that the District is pursuing the SWSS option, and it will begin the process of the District collaborating with the Department of Education on the SWSS application.
Some general reminders that should continue to be considered by the Board:
The District would be faced with an April 1, 2016, deadline to submit any SWSS application to the GA DOE. What is unique in this process is that staff from the GA DOE would work with District staff to guide the District through the application process prior to the DeKalb Board adopting a resolution in support of the application. This resolution adoption would need to occur at the March Board meeting at the latest to meet the April 1, 2016, deadline.
While a Strategic Waiver School System does not require local school governance as a charter system would, it does allow for flexibility from state laws and GA DOE polices and regulations. This flexibility comes in the form of clearly enumerated waiver requests in the SWSS application, and the waivers would be those that are applicable to the full district. This differs from a charter system application where the District as well as individual schools can request specific waivers.
The Board would still be legally required to hold a Public Hearing prior to adopting a resolution in support of a SWSS application, and the District would engage the community to seek input on the SWSS application and requested waivers prior to that point.
As a final note, what is also unique in this approach is that the opportunity for a school or clusters to collaborate and petition for charter status is still available should the District become a Strategic Waiver School System. The SWSS option allows the District to avoid forcing a governance model onto schools and clusters that may legitimately not want to pursue charter status while still allowing charter status to occur after it initiates at the grass-roots level.

DeKalb Charter Updates – Sept 2

Charter Office
Conversion-Renewal and Start-Up Renewal Petitions will be reviewed in the fall 2015. The District received four renewals and 1 new start-up petition:

  • Destiny Achievers Academy of Excellence (Start-Up Renewal)
  • DeKalb Academy of Technology & Environment (Start-Up Renewal)
  • Chamblee Conversion Charter High School (Conversion Renewal)
  • Peachtree Charter Middle School (Conversion Renewal)
  • East Atlanta Charter School (New Start-Up)

The District and Board of Education will have 90 days to review all 4 petitions. These petitions are expected to be scheduled for action by the Board of Education at the November 2015 DeKalb Board of Education Meeting.
The East Atlanta Charter School Petition and Cumulative Review Results, which includes the  District’s rationale for a denial to the Board of Education, were delivered to Board members on August 21. This petition has been scheduled for action at the September 14 Board meeting.
School Choice
This school year elementary and middle school students will complete the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills test (ITBS) in September. During this time, the School Choice Office will offer currently enrolled 4th, 6th and 8th grade students and private and home school students in 3rd – 8th grades the opportunity to complete the ITBS. The sole purpose of the test is to determine if the students are eligible to apply for admission to the 2016 – 2017 school year at:

  • High Achievers Magnet Programs at Wadsworth Magnet School
  • Chapel Hill Middle School
  • Southwest DeKalb High School
  • Kittredge Magnet School
  • Chamblee Middle School
  • Chamblee Charter High School
  • Environmental, Energy and Engineering Magnet Program at Arabia Mountain High School.

School Flexibility Option
The District has begun the work to update the charter application and allow it to meet new GaDOE requirements. Part of this process will include the Community Engagement Sessions. The dates for these sessions will be adjusted and set to occur during the middle of September to allow for proper notification of our community and stakeholders, with the focus of these meetings on the Local School Governance Teams that will be required at each school and how those teams will have the opportunity to assist in the governance of the school.
As a standing reminder, November 1, 2015 is the deadline to submit the district’s current charter petition application if the district wishes to begin operating as a charter district at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
Various board members  will have mini meetings in the near future to meet with the Superintendent and designated staff regarding the School Flexibility Option.