SCSC Newsletter
August 2020
SCSC Shares Pandemic Guidance
for the 2020-21 School Year
The State Charter School Commission of Georgia (SCSC) continues to monitor and plan guidance regarding the COVID 19 pandemic for the 2020-21 school year. Below you will find some updated information to help state charter schools continue to plan for the school year ahead both virtually and in-person as schools choose. Here’s the latest guidance from the Georgia Department of Education(GaDOE) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH).

  • Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools restart guide has been updated to reflect the recently reissued Return to School guidance from DPH. Specifically, the district decision tree has been updated and recommendations from the K-12 restart working groups have been embedded. See the updated document here.

  • GaDOE has released restart guidance for Special Education/IDEA. Though the federal requirements of IDEA have not been waived, GaDOE has provided targeted guidance and scenarios applicable to realities being faced by school leaders, educators, families, and students with disabilities during a pandemic. See the attached guidance here.

  • DPH is finalizing an online reporting tool for districts leaders to utilize when reporting confirmed cases of COVID-19 within their schools. Additional information and guidance from DPH is forthcoming. Here's the latest guidance from DPH.

The SCSC has also updated its pandemic guidance document, which is updated weekly. The most recent version of the document can be found on the SCSC website. The SCSC is here to support schools as you welcome students in the 2020-21 school year. Please reach out to us with questions or concerns.
Gov. Kemp Signs Charter School Legislation
The SCSC joined with charter school supporters to celebrate the passage and signing of House Bill 957 (Rep. Jan Jones). This legislation:
  • Clarifies that state charter schools are eligible to participate in the State Health Benefit Plan.
  • Allows charter schools flexibility in managing school lottery eligibility.
  • Extends state charter school board member terms from two to four years (for appointments after July 1, 2020).
  • Clarifies that records are the property of the school, even when created through an agreement with a third-party vendor.
  • Outlines that in the event of state charter school closure, the school will maintain records for one year and facilitate record transfers. After that period, the SCSC will take any unclaimed records.
  • Shifts the deadline for the virtual school performance audit from Dec. 1st to April 1st to allow for the inclusion of academic performance data.
Thank you to Speaker Pro Tem Jones, Sen. Matt Brass, Governor Kemp, the Georgia Charter Schools Association and others who supported this legislation. A complete legislative summary will be provided in the September newsletter.
SCSC Holds Redistribution Event
Niaya Burnley, Director of Technology and Parent Engagement with SAIL, stands by desks next to a moving truck.
The SCSC hosted a redistribution event in July, during which excess school inventory was shared at no cost to state and locally-approved charter schools. Items included chairs, desks, file cabinets, storage cabinets, and tables. Limited inventory remains available for redistribution by appointment only. Interested charter schools should contact SCSC Business Manager Darcy Callaway (  
SCSC Board Meeting Recap
The State Charter Schools Commission held its most recent board meeting on July 29, 2020. By unanimous vote, the SCSC adopted the SCSC staff recommendation to approve SLAM Academy’s request to add South Fulton County to the school’s attendance zone.

The SCSC also adopted the SCSC staff’s recommendation to approve Mountain Education Charter High School’s request to amend its charter contract to increase the school’s enrollment limit.

A meeting minutes summary can be found on the SCSC website. The next SCSC board meeting is scheduled for August 26, 2020.
State School Superintendent Seeks Nominations for Parent Advisory Council 
Georgia’s State School Superintendent Richard Woods is seeking school district nominations for parents to serve on the 2021 State School Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC). Nominations are due by Friday, August 28, 2020.

The Superintendent’s PAC will meet, virtually, two times this school year with a focus on parent and family engagement, as described in the federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Members will serve as advisors and will provide input on family and community engagement resources. Please keep in mind that the PAC is an advisory group and not a parent leadership training program. Each PAC member selected will serve a two-year term on the PAC. The nominated parent must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be the parent of a child enrolled in a Title I school. “Parent” is defined as a grandparent, foster parent, aunt, uncle, legal guardian, or any other adult who serves as a primary caregiver of a student.
  • Commit to attend all PAC meetings held throughout the length of the two-year term.

The two PAC meetings this school year are scheduled tentatively for Monday, October 26, 2020 (virtual) and March 22, 2021, subject to change. If restrictions for contact are lifted or updated, there will be a possibility that the second meeting may be a face-to-face meeting. If those changes are made, PAC members will be informed in advance. Reimbursement for travel-related expenses to the scheduled PAC meeting will be provided by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE).

To view the online form to apply, visit the link here.
SCSF Works to Bridge the Digital Divide 
The State Charter Schools Foundation of Georgia (SCSF) has set a goal to bridge the digital divide for state charter school students by providing them with electronic devices and access to the Internet. The SCSF estimates more than 5,000 state charter school students lack access to an electronic device and/or the Internet at home. With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, schools are opening virtually or creating contingency plans for distance learning in the case of closures. Making the need for access to technology at home is critical.

“The digital divide is not just a ‘pandemic problem,’ but COVID-19 has highlighted the need for every child to have access to an electronic device,” said Michele Neely, president of the

“Our children need to graduate high school with solid computer skills and the ability to communicate through digital devices to be successful in today’s workforce. Starting in elementary school, more instructional content is delivered through electronic devices, and even homework is now digital. Children without their own device were already at a disadvantage. Now, though, these children miss out on critical learning opportunities while school buildings are closed. Providing devices to children is a matter of ensuring equity in access to public education.”

The SCSF has partnered with Inspiredu (formerly PowerMyLearning Greater Atlanta) to help with this initiative. To date, the partnership has resulted in 160 laptops and tablets for state charter school students. Temporary Internet access has been provided to nearly 700 state charter school students during school closures with help from SCSF grants to schools. 

To reach their goal of serving at least 1,500 students, the SCSF is raising $600,000 for this initiative.

"Every single dollar makes a difference and can help change the course of a child's educational path," Neely said. "We need the community to come together - businesses, organizations, foundations, and individuals - to remove this barrier to accessing education. Our schools and Georgia's children are depending on us."

To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit the SCSF website. A donation of $400 will provide a vulnerable student with a laptop, backpack, training, and technical support. A donation of $30 will provide Internet access to a low-income student for a month. 

For more information about the SCSF's partnership with Inspiredu, a nonprofit dedicated to digital literacy, please see the news release.

For sponsorship and partnership opportunities, please contact 
GaDOE Announces Funding for AP Exams for the 2020-21 School Year
The state of Georgia will pay for one AP exam for Georgia public school students enrolled in AP courses in one of two categories:
  • Option 1 Students are public school students who individually qualify for the College Board fee reduction. For these students, the state of Georgia will pay for one AP Exam in any subject (with the exception of AP Seminar and AP Research Exams).
  • Option 2 Students are public school students who do not qualify for the College Board fee reduction. For these students, the state of Georgia will pay $86 per AP Exam for one AP STEM exam.
Directions for completing the invoice process will be sent directly to AP Coordinators in the fall. For more information, contact the College Readiness Team for further assistance:

GCSA Launches Facility Resource Center
for Charter Schools
Following a joint study facilities study commissioned by the State Charter Schools Commission (SCSC) and the Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA), GCSA will launch a statewide resource hub to assist charter schools in navigating the complex facilities landscape. The GCSA Facility Resource Center will immediately provide training and technical assistance to schools and vendors, hands-on financing support, and develop a long-term strategy to improve the facilities and financing environment in Georgia. 
A facility resource center was the primary recommendation of the Facilities Transparency Project, which gathered data directly from charter schools on the facilities challenges that Georgia charters face. The Transparency Project found that Georgia, like many states, suffers from a fragmented facilities support sector, technical assistance deficiencies, and complicated financing and site approval processes. A centralized support network, or “hub” of facilities resources, streamlines supports for schools. The study was funded through a U.S. Department of Education dissemination grant supported by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools through the Tennessee Charter School Center (TCSC).
Review the findings here and learn more about the GCSA Facility Center at
Mountain Education Charter High School Offers New Social Emotional Learning Curriculum
Mountain Education Charter High School is offering a new social emotional learning curriculum.
The “Hike Your Own Hike” (HYOH) secondary education social emotional learning curriculum is based upon the vision and research of Dr. Wayne Lovell, superintendent of Mountain Education Charter High School.
Mountain Education Charter High School adopted six Social Emotional Learning Competencies which include the five CASEL competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social-Awareness, Responsible Decision Making and Relationship Skills) with the addition of a sixth Self-Care competency based on definitions from the World Health Organization and The American Psychological Association. These six competencies are the basis of the HYOH program.
According to officials at Mountain Education Charter High School, the new curriculum is the culmination of years of personal and professional experience, research, and active collaboration with subject matter experts from both within Mountain Education Charter High School and from external benefactors.
To read more about the “Hike Your Own Hike” curriculum, see the summary here. Additional details on the curriculum see the attachment here
State Charter Chatter
  • Several state charter schools are featured in Atlanta Parent Magazine's July "Top 10" issue. International Academy of Smyrna, International Charter Academy of Georgia, and International Charter School of Atlanta were included in the "Language Schools" list; and Georgia Connections Academy, Georgia Cyber Academy, and International Charter School of Atlanta were included in the list of largest charter schools. Israel Smith, a student from Brookhaven Innovation Academy, was also featured for his design of a Coronavirus video game for children.
  • 11Alive filmed students and parents picking up laptops as a part of the SCSF's effort to bridge the digital divide. Inspiredu, a nonprofit partner of the SCSF, provided scholars from Ivy Preparatory Academy and Fulton Leadership Academy with a laptop and backpack. They will also receive training and technical support from Inspiredu. You can watch the story here.
  • Students at Scintilla Charter Academy created a Free Little Pantry in downtown Valdosta. Students created the pantry to help people in need as a way to participate in its annual Better World Day. Read more here.
SCSC Meetings
The next SCSC monthly board meeting is scheduled for August 26 at 10:00 a.m. A list of upcoming meetings can be found on the meetings page of the SCSC website.
GaDOE Support Directory
Providing high-quality service and support to districts and schools is a core responsibility of the Georgia Department of Education. With that in mind, GaDOE created a District Support Directory. Simply enter the name of your district or select it from the drop-down at the top of the page, and contact information for the staff assigned to support your district will appear. You can filter by name, specialization/focus, or title. The directory will be refreshed regularly to ensure the most up-to-date contact information is available.
FY20 Governance Training Requirements
The State Board of Education has extended local board training requirements to September 30, 2020. Accordingly, the SCSC will extend the governance training deadline to September 30, 2020. The SCSC will waive the requirement regarding direct instruction so that pre-recorded webinars can be used to satisfy the 12-hour training requirement. For more information about Annual Governance Training Requirements, click here.
GaDOE Assessment Resource
Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, GaDOE will offer a free formative assessment aligned to the Georgia Standards of Excellence. The assessment is called DRC BEACON.

Districts wishing to implement the optional DRC BEACON formative assessment resource need to go ahead and start preparing and submitting related data files. Please visit the DRC BEACON webpage for more information.

Questions may be directed to Theresa Dell-Ross at
BEACON offers online training tools that includes a set of available test items similar to experience online testing Georgia for Georgia Milestones by clicking here.

There will be a webinar training on Tuesday, August 25. See the Key Training Dates for details on how to register for this and all other GaDOE Assessment trainings.
GaDOE Data Reporting Deadlines
Please review and mark your calendars with the upcoming August reporting deadlines from the Georgia Department of Education. 
Reporting Calendar
The FY20 Comprehensive Reporting Calendar for schools is now available on the SCSC website. This calendar consolidates LEA and school reporting deadlines from the SCSC and GaDOE in the areas of governance, finance, federal programs, and data collections. Outstanding deadlines will be updated accordingly. 
SCSC Upcoming Trainings & Events
Academic Summit 
Target Audience: School Leaders, Academic/ Curriculum Directors and Lead Teachers
September 17, 2020 – Held Virtually
The purpose of this training is to plan for new instructional practices for the 2020/2021 school year. Topics will include each school’s response to COVID-19, implementing school restart plans, and adjusting instruction in anticipation of learning loss. Specific focus will be on identifying strategies that support gap closure in a virtual or hybrid learning environment and learning how to implement these strategies using synchronous and asynchronous tools.
Sign up here for this training.       

Petitioner Bootcamp  
Target Audience: Start-up charter petitioners
October 7, 2020 – Held Virtually

The Petitioner Boot Camp prepares potential petitioners for the SCSC charter petition process. Attendees will learn what goes into a successful charter petition, with a specific focus on timeline, legal requirements, board governance, financial controls, and budget preparation. Attendees will also hear directly from existing state charter schools and have the opportunity to ask questions of existing schools and SCSC staff. Sign up here for this training. 
Petitioner Webinar Series
Target Audience: Start-up Charter Petitioners
October 15, 2020 and October 22, 2020 – Held Virtually

The SCSC will offer a series of webinars following the petitioner boot camp to assist applicants in the petition development process.
•           Overview of Application and FluidReview – October 15, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. Register Here
•           Overview of Funding and Budget Template – October 22, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. Register Here

Governance Training (Opportunity 1 of 3)          
Target Audience: Governing board members and school leaders
November 9-10, 2020- Held Virtually

Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2084(f), requires every member of a governing board of a state charter school to participate in annual governing board training. State charter school governing board members may attend one of the two governing board training opportunities provided to state charters by the SCSC at no charge to fulfill this obligation. The SCSC strongly encourages state charter school governing board members to attend one of the governance trainings conducted by the SCSC as these trainings provides board members the unique opportunity to discuss issues and concerns directly with their authorizer. The SCSC staff’s unique understanding of the compliance issues facing state charter schools ensures that SCSC training sessions are always topical, relevant, and timely. Topics will include the roles and responsibilities of board members and administrators, the SCSC Comprehensive Performance Framework, school finance, legal obligations, among others. Sign up here for this training.
Funding & Professional Development Opportunities
Get Georgia Reading Campaign
This campaign is geared toward getting all of Georgia’s children on a path to third grade reading proficiency by 2020. The campaign unites public and private partners to pursue language, literacy, development, and sustainability to reach this goal. Get involved or read more about the initiative here.
State Charter Schools Commission |
The State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia (SCSC) is a state-level, independent charter school authorizing entity. The SCSC has the power to approve or deny petitions for state charter schools and renew, nonrenew, or terminate state charter school contracts in accordance with Georgia law.
Copyright © 2020 State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia, All rights reserved.