Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Charter Vote Results


According to multiple sources, 

here are the results of the charter vote. 

Faculty 47 yes, 31 no. 60.2%. 

Parents 409 yes, 17 no

Teachers Divided Over Pending Charter Vote

by Emma Dickinson

The newly conceived Chamblee High School charter has been drafted and the vote occurred on the 23rd of September. The charter was passed and if state and DeKalb County Board of Education approves it, a new school policy will be adopted in fall of 2015.

The old charter was formulated in 2001 to preserve the seven period system as well as create curriculum for more rigorous math classes. Due to the expiration of the old charter this year, a draft of the new charter was written by the Governance Council over the summer .

DeKalb County Board of Education, as well as the Georgia Department of Education mandates CCHS to develop this new charter in ways that have not been exercised by the school in recent years.  
The charter allows the school to receive funding from the DCBOE, but allows the school to operate as a financially independent agency. CCHS will use the funding and philanthropic grants to expand and integrate curriculum and the Mastery Learning System classes, which includes a range of new classes, and the STEAM program.
 It has the ability to allow non-magnet students from other DeKalb school districts to attend CCHS. It creates local school autonomy and parents, students, teachers and staff can propose policy for the school, which will be reviewed by the Governing Board and the principal.

 Due to this school autonomy, decisions can be made for the new STEAM program that will create science, technology and art classes, teacher curriculum, and future projects.
Because of its formative nature, rumors and myths still circulate around the charter.
Math teacher Andrew Milne, the lead-teacher in the governance council and one of the main authors of the charter, is excited about the new programs that may arrive at Chamblee.

"Things that are in the new Charter are a STEAM program or a science, technology, engineering, art, and math program," said Milne. "We want to change how the school is run, so more of a bottom-up system [will be created], so decisions can be made by the school community at large, instead of being made at the top and dictated down to us."

The charter will change the amount of students in each class through the Mastery Learning System. Students would have a choice of the classes they get to take as well as have the ability to choose the period of time that the class takes up every day .

"Students will have more control and more responsibility for their own learning. If [you were] a student who really loves a subject, you could spend two or three hours in that class, or if you were struggling in another, you could spend more time in that class," said Milne.

The vote will depend on the voices of both parents and teachers, and the parent/guardian community will collectively have one vote for each student enrolled at Chamblee.  If the majority votes yes, then it will be reviewed by Dekalb County School Board and the State.

Teacher input in the charter is important, due to the impact on administration and curriculum, but social studies teacher Jeremy Karassik is abstaining from the vote and feels like the details of the charter are too vague.

"I feel that despite the research I have done on the charter, I do not feel confident enough about some of the data, and I am leaning towards no," said Karassik. "Some aspects are speculative, such class choice, smaller class sizes, and if some of the budget does not come through, we will be short staffed."

The charter has been drafted and can be seen online through
With change comes concern. Many teachers are skeptical of the new charter and are surprised by big changes.
English teacher Adrienne Keathley has found some of the Charter very agreeable.
"Increased teacher autonomy, both in content and what we can teach, as well as how we can grade, seems very appealing," said Keathley.

When asked about change in leadership to the Governing Board to a group of teachers, administrators and community intellectuals, as well as fiscal changes, Keathley expressed apprehension.

"I am dubious. We were promised that the charter will be more teacher led, but the part that makes me nervous is about the money," said Keathley. "One of the complications, in the previous charter School, in which I worked, was the fact that we had to work longer hours for less pay. Insurance was also more costly than it is now, and there is no guarantee that it would not get more expensive or limited."
Head counselor Tinikia Jones, is also unsure about the charter.

"I support the charter in a general sense, but I have concerns about some of the things it is trying to implement. A lot of it relates to human resources and what would happen to our position benefits, tenure, and letting the governance board decide who comes back every year. If a teacher or a counselor has an incident with the child or the child fails a class, and their parent is on the board, that teacher or counselor could be retaliated against."

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