Georgia’s first charter school law was passed in 1993 and was amended in 1998 to allow for locally approved charter schools. In 2008, the law was amended to allow for a state commission to approve charter schools, however in 2011, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled the commission law unconstitutional. In 2012, a constitutional amendment was overwhelmingly approved by Georgia voters to allow for a new State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia ("Commission"). In addition to state authorization, the Commission was granted the authority to actively seek supplemental revenue from federal grant funds, institutional grant funds, and philanthropic organizations. As a result, the State Charter Schools Foundation of Georgia (SCSF or Foundation) was incorporated in 2015.
SCSF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation established to leverage resources to advance education in Georgia through excellent state charter schools. While the Commission played a role in the creation of the SCSF, the two organizations are separate and operate under the authority of two different governing boards and separate bylaws. The Commission and Foundation both share an unwavering commitment to support state charter schools; however, the organizations play very different roles in terms of providing that support. The Commission is the state charter authorizer (the entity charged with approving, evaluating, and holding state charters accountable for performance), and the Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that makes strategic investments to support the planning, implementation, capital costs and growth of excellent state charter schools.
GEORGIA CHARTER LANDSCAPE
There are currently 115 charter schools in Georgia. Of those, 29 are authorized by the Commission and are thereby “state charter schools.” Total enrollment for state charter schools exceeds 33,000 students in K-12th grade. Per pupil funding for state charter schools made strides towards equity in the 2018 legislative session with the passage of House Bill 787. For the 2018-19 school year, state charter schools on average receive $9,257 per pupil from state and federal sources. Traditional public schools in Georgia receive an average of $9,581 per pupil from local, state and federal sources. State charter schools are not eligible to receive local tax revenue.
The per pupil revenue received by state charter schools must cover all expenses, including facility leases, debt services, capital projects, and renovations. This is not the case for traditional district schools that can access additional funding revenue through local taxes like SPLOST and bonds.
In essence, state charter schools must do more with less. Knowing that, the State Charter Schools Foundation raises money and leverages additional resources to support these schools.