Madison City Schools discuss future involvement with charter schools in the district

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – While students prepare to go back to school, members of the Madison City School Board have already started their homework. They are under a tight September 1st deadline for making a decision regarding whether the board will act as the authorizer or board members will leave decisions up to the Alabama Public Charter School Commission in Montgomery.

“Do we have the time, do we have the resources to get the application completed by that time,”¬†Superintendent Dee Fowler said. “I think that’s the number one decision the board will be focusing on.”

On March 19th, state legislators enacted the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act which establishes charter schools throughout the 135 school districts for school year 2016-2017. By definition, a charter school is a publicly-funded school operated under contract with nonprofit organizations. They operate outside many Department of Education regulations applied to regular charter schools. Charters give additional options for parent choice, while still funded publicly. Superintendent Dee Fowler says research shows this type of school benefits inner-city students.

“How would it be in a suburban environment like Madison City,¬† I don’t know that I can state that,” Dr. Fowler said.

Through this law, local districts can decide whether they want to authorize charter schools or leave it up to the commission. As an authorizer, the local district can decide the type of charter school that’s built.

“Being an authorizer puts you in charge of your own destiny,” Dr. Fowler said.

If the district decides not to be an authorizer, then the commission in Montgomery decides what kind of charter school is built in your district; leaving the school system without a say.

“One would think it would be incumbent upon a school district to be an authorizer so they could have control of their destiny,” Dr. Fowler said.