SCSC Newsletter
January 2021
SCSC Welcomes New Commissioner, Two New Staff Members
Happy New Year from the State Charter Schools Commission (SCSC)! The SCSC will hold its next board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 10 a.m. Meeting details and a list of board meetings for 2021 are listed on the meetings page of our website. During that meeting, the SCSC will welcome returning board member Tony Lowden as a new commissioner.

The Commission has also added two new staff members, Administrative & Communications Coordinator, Erica Acha-Morfaw and Associate General Counsel, Mu’min Islam. Acha-Morfaw is a Georgia State graduate and joins the SCSC from a marketing firm. Islam is a Temple, Samford, and Georgetown graduate and recently moved to Georgia after working for a charter management organization in Pennsylvania.

Additionally, SCSC Communications & Outreach Coordinator Danielle Williams is departing the SCSC to join a private communications firm. The SCSC wishes Williams the best in her new opportunity.
Erica Acha-Morfaw
Mu'min Islam
Tony Lowden
COVID-19 & CARES Act 2, CDC Updates, and REMS Child Exploitation Alert

The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) released new information regarding COVID-19 and the CARES Act 2. The information includes CARES 2 allotments for schools, emergency paid sick leave, and vaccine information. Those updates are as follows:

CARES 2 Allocation
GaDOE is now in receipt of the state allocation of CARES 2 and have calculated LEA allocations, including allocations for state charter schools. The CARES 2 allocation is approximately four times the amount in the original CARES Act allocation. Like the original CARES Act allocations, federal law requires CARES 2 be calculated using the Title I proportionate share amounts. CARES 2 will be based on FY21 Title I proportionality where the original CARES was based on FY20 Title I proportionality. GaDOE will issue Grant Award Notifications soon.

GaDOE notes that if you have not spent all of your original CARES funds then you will want to budget those before budgeting CARES 2 funds. The format for budgeting and budget approval will be the same as it is for the original CARES funds, including the same Use of Funds form that must be attached in the Consolidated Application for approval.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)
According to GaDOE, per the CARES Act, EPSLA ended December 31. However, within the newly passed stimulus bill, there is a provision to allow employers to voluntarily give EPSLA through the end of March. GaDOE encourages schools to work with their local board attorney and staff to determine if extending EPSLA is an option for your school.

Vaccines for Teachers
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has included teachers in Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout. DPH is still fulfilling Phase 1a+ based on the supply and demand of the vaccine. As soon as enough supply is available, DPH will move to Phase 1b. DPH encourages you to work with your local public health departments to determine timing and locations for teacher vaccinations.

CDC Updates Several Websites and School Tools
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated several tools that are meant to be used together and guide school leaders through the process of planning and selecting COVID-19 mitigation strategies; conducting school walkthroughs with local health officials; and monitoring and evaluating the implementation of select mitigation strategies. The updates are listed in the document here.

REMS Alert: Protecting Students From Child Exploitation in Virtual and In-Person Learning Environments
The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) released awareness, guidance, and outreach techniques around child exploitation. As virtual and hybrid learning models continue to rise, the risk of and exposure to child exploitation on increases. Furthermore, it discusses the challenges mandated reporters like school personnel may face in identifying signs of child exploitation and in managing reporting requirements and processes in adjusted learning environments. Read the full article here.
State Charter Schools Foundation to Host
Art of Connection Student Art Exhibit 
All state charter school students are encouraged to show their creativity in the State Charter Schools Foundation's (SCSF) first annual Art of Connection Exhibition of Student Art. This year's theme of "How I Stayed Connected to Others" invites students to express how they have stayed in touch with family, friends, and others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Entries will be presented in the SCSF's virtual art gallery. Winners will receive an Amazon gift card. Students may submit their entries online now through Feb. 28, 2021. For more information, see the SCSF website.
State Charter Schools Foundation Awards COVID-19 Grants to Schools
The State Charter Schools Foundation of Georgia (SCSF) has announced a second round of COVID-19 Relief Fund grant awards totaling $170,000 for state charter schools to support students.

Financial support for the SCSF’s COVID-19 Relief Fund was provided by a $150,000 grant from the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Recovery and Response Fund, a partnership between the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta, a $15,000 grant from the Next Generation Foundation (Columbus, GA), and other private donations.

For more information on grant recipients, please see the SCSF press release here.

State Charter Chatter
  • Chick-fil-A, Inc. announced that two state charter schools, DuBois Integrity Academy and Ethos Classical, are 2021 True Inspiration Awards grant recipients. Chick-fil-A awarded a total of $5 million in grants to 34 nonprofit organizations that that are making a positive impact in the areas of hunger, homelessness and education through the 2021 True Inspiration Awards program. This year’s program honors organizations that are Black-led or impact communities of color. DuBois Integrity Academy was selected as the prestigious 2021 S. Truett Cathy Honoree. The $350,000 grant is awarded to one organization nationally that embodies the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Chick-fil-A’s late founder. Chick-fil-A also presented Ethos Classical with a $50,000 grant award as a regional winner of the True Inspiration Awards program. Read the SCSC news release here.
  • Congratulations to Baconton Community Charter School, Brookhaven Innovation Academy, and Resurgence Hall on being awarded computer science teacher training grants from the Georgia Department of Education. Read more here.
  • Furlow Charter School was one of several schools across the state of Georgia to receive a grant from ‘No Kid Hungry Georgia.’ Read more here.
SCSC Meetings
The next SCSC monthly board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2021 at 10 a.m. A list of upcoming meetings for 2021 can be found on the meetings page of the SCSC website.
Assessment Updates 
Georgia Milestones End-of-Course (EOC) Weight
The State Board of Education (SBOE) at its Dec. 21, 2020 called meeting voted unanimously to approve State School Superintendent Richard Woods’ recommendation of a .01% course grade weight, at a minimum, for Georgia Milestones End-of-Course (EOC) assessments for the 2020-2021 school year. Districts may utilize this updated weight as they calculate and post final grades for students.

Winter EOC Main Administration Window Extended
The Winter EOC Main Administration Window has been extended through Jan. 22. This extension will provide additional time to complete EOC assessments that may have been interrupted or not started due to closures or quarantines. Additional guidance on this window extension can be found in this FAQ document.

ACCESS for ELLs Administration Window Extended
The ACCESS for ELLs administration window has been extended through March 26. This extension will allow districts to apply flexibility options where needed and provide districts with additional time to work with families and staff to schedule these assessments

National Council on Measurement in Education Webinar Series on COVID’s Impact on Assessments
The National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) is hosting a 3-month series of webinars on COVID’s impact on assessments. In the series, practitioners and researchers will discuss the assessment challenges associated with the pandemic and identify best practice solutions to them. You do not have to be an NCME member to attend. You can find more info and register online at

BEACON Training
There is an upcoming training on using BEACON to Support Instruction Part 2 on Feb. 2 that will further support teacher and administrator use of BEACON reports. Participants will learn how to access a variety of reports available in BEACON and gain a deeper understanding of how to use these reports to better inform instruction. This session will go into detail on how to use reports from a second BEACON administration to identify student growth and how to identify successes in instruction as well as areas for support. Links to this training may be found in the Key Training Dates.

Spring 2021 Enrollment Count Window
The Georgia Milestones EOG and EOC Spring 2021 Enrollment Count window opened Dec. 18, 2020 and will close Jan. 22. Please remember to enter specific assessment dates for each test as date ranges are no longer acceptable. It is critically important to provide accurate enrollment information so GaDOE can plan for allocation of appropriate resources and support, as well as ensure timely scoring and reporting. As a reminder, GaDOE will offer a QuickStart Guide and training video in lieu of a webinar training. These resources can be found on the Georgia Milestones Training Resources page. You may also use the Enrollment Guide located in the DRC INSIGHT Portal to assist with complete the Enrollment Count process.

GaDOE Seeks Nominations for Georgia Alternate Assessment 2.0 Meetings
The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) is seeking nominations for highly-qualified educators to participate in several upcoming Georgia Alternate Assessment 2.0 (GAA 2.0) meetings. There will be several meetings throughout the spring and summer and GaDOE is seeking to create a pool of potential participants. For more details about the process and how to make nominations, please read the documents from GaDOE below.

GaDOE Announces Student Health Survey, Wellness Webinar Series

The Georgia Department of Education’s Office of Whole Child Supports has released details on its student health survey and webinar series focusing on wellness policies.
Georgia Student Health Survey
The Georgia Student Health Survey, Georgia Parent Survey, and Georgia School Personnel Survey will not be administered during the 2020-21 school year. Instead, a brief Student Wellness Survey will be administered to middle- and high-school students later this school year, from February through March. 
The Student Wellness Survey was designed to collect data on student wellness during the current school year. It is anonymous and completely voluntary. The survey includes questions about peer and adult social support, bullying, stress, mental health, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. There is no mandatory participation rate required by GaDOE and no thresholds to meet for the survey, since it is voluntary. The data will not be used to calculate School Climate Star Ratings. The survey results will provide districts and schools with data regarding the non-academic barriers to learning being faced by their students. The survey link and additional information are forthcoming.
Webinar Series on Wellness Policies
On Jan. 27 and Feb. 10, GaDOE's Office of Whole Child Supports and School Nutrition Program will co-host a webinar series focused on the evidence behind, and best practices for, developing successful wellness policies that focus on the whole child. Joining the webinars along with your school or district wellness committee (or other staff members who focus on student wellness) is encouraged. More details are available here.

FY21 Reporting Calendar
The State Charter Schools Commission’s (SCSC) FY21 Reporting Deadlines calendar is available on the SCSC website here. Please note that most deadlines are established by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and are subject to change. The SCSC makes every attempt to ensure that it maintains all dates as accurately as possible. However, all schools are encouraged to stay up to date of any changes to the timeline made by GaDOE. Any failure by a state charter school to meet deadlines established and enforced by the SCSC and GaDOE will be reflected in the school’s assessment through the SCSC Comprehensive Performance Framework.
SCSC Upcoming Trainings & Events
Governance Training Live Session (Opportunity 2 of 3)
Target Audience: Governing board members and school leaders
Feb. 2, 2021- 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
2021 National Charter Schools Conference
Registration is open for the 2021 National Charter Schools Conference. The conference will be held virtually June 20-23. Here are more details and a link to register. You can also complete this survey on what, and who, you want to see at NCSC21.

GaDOE Professional Learning Catalog
The Georgia Department of Education released its latest professional learning catalog. The catalog is available at the link here Professional Learning Catalog from the Georgia Department of Education. 

2021 Winter Instructional Leadership Conference 
The Office of School Improvement will host the 2021 Winter Instructional Leadership Conference – Reimagining K-12 Education virtually on March 2-3, 2021. The two-day event will provide information on new and practical resources from divisions across the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE), hear from successful practitioners across the state, and learn about available assistance from partnering agencies to support improvement efforts.

  • Registration: Registration information will be released on GaDOE’s Events and Conference webpage on Feb. 1, 2021. We encourage early registration, as seats are limited for each session. There are no registration fees associated with this conference. For more information, you may contact GaDOE’s professional learning program specialist, Dawn Ashmore by email at

  • Requests for Proposals: GaDOE is currently looking for school and district leaders to share innovative and successful practices with conference attendees. The goal is to highlight the great work happening in Georgia schools in support of the whole child. Presentations can be presented individually, in groups, or by partnering with GaDOE or RESA specialists to share success stories and provide detailed information on the processes used to increase instructional effectiveness, teacher and/or leadership capacity, and ultimately, student achievement. Leaders may submit a request for proposal to present during the conference using this link. Detailed information can be found within the JotForm on the process and requirements. Proposals are due by the close of business on Jan. 6, 2021.  

Further information from GaDOE about the 2021 Winter Instructional Leadership Conference is available at the document here.
GCSA Facility Resource Center Lunch & Learn Series
Georgia Charter Schools Association will host a lunch and learn series focusing on charter facility issues in January and February. The 45-minute sessions will be held at noon on January 27, February 10, and February 24. A description of each of the sessions are listed below. Register for the upcoming sessions here. If you have additional questions, please contact Dr. Bonnie Holliday, GCSA's Executive VP of Policy and External Relations, by email at

  • January 27, 2021: Shop Local
Every school is going to need to build out their "facility team" and the "team" has the opportunity to make or break the school opening up on time. During this training we are going to focus on the importance of shopping local, the timelines and approaches to building out the team, and how to qualify the experience to match the project at hand.

  • February 10, 2021: Money Problems
Every facility project is going to be faced with the challenge of figuring out how to finance it.  With over 17 different types of capital markets to access, charter schools have a variety of unique lending tools they can leverage. Each capital market is unique and offers different benefits and restraints. Tune in to learn more about how to navigate the various markets and enhance your school's credit profile so you can access competitive rates and terms.

  • February 24, 2021: Facility Issues
No two properties are identical. However, many of the challenges and issues faced by schools are overcome using common techniques and strategies. During this training we will cover the most common mistakes and challenges schools face and provide attendees with some tangible strategies and questions the facility team should be considering.
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.
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