SCSC Newsletter
July 2020
SCSC Requests Pandemic Plan
from State Charter Schools
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. As the oversight body to state charter schools, the SCSC has an obligation to ensure that each school’s plan aligns with state and federal requirements. As such, state charter schools must submit pandemic plans to the SCSC for review.
The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and Georgia Department of Public Health (GaDPH) prepared Georgia’s Path to Recovery for K-12 Schools , guidance that provides a tiered approach for safely returning students and employees to school buildings in the 2020-2021 school year amid the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. This guidance provides a framework with recommended practices based on varying level of community spread, as defined by your local department of public health. Additionally, Governor Kemp and Superintendent Woods convened six K-12 restart working committees to focus on 1) School Meals; 2) Distance Learning/Professional Learning; 3) Connectivity & Devices; 4) Mental Health and Wellness; 5) Supplemental Learning; 6) Facilities, Transportation & Equipment. Resources, guidance, and recommendations are shared on . Finally, Governor Kemp issued an Executive Order on June 29 th instructing the State Board of Education to promulgate rules, regulations and guidance pertaining to the operation of public schools this fall. 
State charter schools, like all local school districts, have flexibility to implement a pandemic plan that best suits the needs of their individual communities. The GaDOE and GaDPH guidance is not mandated and is a tool to assist schools. Through broad flexibility waivers, state charter schools can already implement many of the recommended practices, such as modifying school calendars and instructional time and methods. Additional guidance is forthcoming and will be shared with schools as it becomes available.
Pandemic Plan for SCSC
Each state charter school must submit a pandemic plan for review to the SCSC by July 24th . The SCSC created a guidance document , to be referenced in conjunction with the GaDOE and GaDPH guidance, as schools develop pandemic plans. Additionally, throughout the 2020-21 school year, schools must notify the SCSC upon altering their pandemic plan or shifting to a different phase of the plan based on level of community spread. Pandemic plans should be submitted to Cerrone Lockett, SCSC General Counsel, at .
SCSC Webinar Regarding Pandemic Plan
SCSC staff will host a webinar on Monday, July 13th at 1 p.m . to assist you and answer questions. You can register for the webinar here . We ask that you send your questions in advance, to the extent that it is possible, so we can provide the best information possible. Questions can be submitted to Cerrone Lockett. This webinar is not required and will be recorded.

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.
Governor Kemp Encourages Georgians
to Wear Masks
Gov. Kemp Wearing a Mask
Governor Kemp is embarking on a statewide tour to encourage Georgians to wear masks and curb the spread of COVID-19. To support this initiative, the Governor’s Office, in partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is releasing a total of three million cloth face coverings in July, to the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) and 39 county emergency management agencies across the state. The cloth face coverings are washable and reusable, and will help protect citizens, teachers and students as they prepare to return to school and work in the coming months.

“Wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands and continue to follow the guidance provided by public health officials,” said Governor Kemp.

GaDOE will receive two million of the face coverings to provide to students and teachers as they return for the new school year. School systems will have the flexibility to determine how to distribute the masks. Counties receiving the masks were identified by the Department of Public Health as areas where infection rates are rising or there may be increased risk of transmission. 

The Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) will serve as the mask distribution points. State charter schools that are not attached to a RESA will be given instructions on how and where to pick up the masks. In addition to masks for students and staff, each school will receive one non-touch thermometer.
Georgia General Assembly Adjourns Legislative Session
The Georgia General Assembly concluded the 2020 legislative session on Friday, June 26 th following a hiatus due to COVID-19. In addition to adopting the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, the legislature passed two charter school-related bills. All legislation is subject to the Governor’s review and approval before becoming law.

  • Fiscal Year 2021 State Budget (signed by Governor Kemp):
  • Due to temporary state revenue declines, the FY21 budget contains a ten percent austerity reduction to Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding. The state charter school supplement is not subject to the austerity reduction. The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) shared FY21 funding information with all state charter schools.
  • The Charter Facility Grant was preserved and is subject to a $4K reduction.

  • House Bill 957 (Sponsor: Rep. Jan Jones; signed by Governor Kemp):
  • Clarifies that state charter schools may participate in the State Health Benefit Plan. 
  • Allows charter schools to require proof of residency at the time of application OR at the time of enrollment, based on the needs of the community that the school is intending to serve.
  • Extends state charter school board member terms from two to four years (for appointments after July 1, 2020).
  • Clarifies that student 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.

  • House Bill 755 (Sponsor: Rep. Dave Belton): Requires that local boards of education provide annual allotment sheets to locally approved charter schools itemizing state, local, and federal funds.

The SCSC will provide a comprehensive overview of legislative changes that impact 2020-21 school operations soon. We are thankful to the Governor’s Office, Georgia General Assembly, the Georgia Charter Schools Association, school communities and many others who supported and advocated for state charter schools during this very challenging season. 

SCSC Board Meeting Recap
The State Charter School Commission held its most recent board meeting on June 24, 2020. By unanimous vote, the SCSC approved Commissioner Paul Williams as Chairman and Commissioner Buzz Brockway as its Vice-Chairman. Williams and Brockway’s one-year appointments will take effect on July 1 st .

The SCSC also adopted the SCSC staff recommendation to extend charter terms for eligible schools to provide for adequate academic performance data prior to renewal decisions; and the SCSC adopted the FY21 SCSC agency budget as presented by SCSC staff.

A meeting minutes summary can be found on the SCSC website . The next SCSC board meeting is scheduled for July 29, 2020.
SCSC Accountability Update
Due to COVID-19-related school closures, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) has waived all assessment and accountability requirements for the 2019-20 school year. GaDOE will not produce a 2019-20 CCRPI score.

Due to the lack of available data, the SCSC will not be able to produce 2019-20 academic performance scores. To not penalize schools and allow adequate performance data for renewal consideration, SCSC staff recommended and commissioners approved extending charter contract terms by one year.

SCSC staff will produce operational and financial performance scores for the 2019-20 school year. For schools with extended contract terms, the 2019-20 operational and financial scores will be included in renewal considerations only if the scores improve a school’s renewal status. Staff are beginning to draft charter amendment contracts and will reach out to all applicable schools in the process. 

On June 18, 2020 Governor Kemp and Superintendent Woods released a joint statement stating Georgia will seek an assessment and accountability waiver for the 2020-21 school year, as well. Should U.S. Ed approve the waiver request, the SCSC will explore alternate accountability options and request input from state charter schools.

The SCSC will adjust the Comprehensive Performance Framework (CPF) to align with solutions, recommendations or adjustments provided by GaDOE. While the current one year contract extensions are meant to address the present situation in terms of available academic data, it does not preclude the SCSC from making future recommendations regarding academic performance scores to account for the disruptions of the COVID-19 crisis on the school year to come. 
SCSF Works to Bridge the Digital Divide 
A person picking up the devices, complete with backpacks, to distribute them to students.
The State Charter Schools Foundation of Georgia (SCSF) secured nearly 150 laptops and tablets for state charter school students through a partnership with Inspiredu (formerly PowerMyLearning of Greater Atlanta), a nonprofit organization that refurbishes electronic devices for low-income children.

School leaders from Brookhaven Innovation Academy and International Academy of Smyrna picked up the devices, complete with backpacks, and will be distributing them to students who cannot afford to purchase a device over the summer. Inspiredu also provides families with technical support and training to ensure that they know how to use the devices. Students from Ivy Preparatory Academy and Fulton Leadership Academy will also be receiving their own devices to support learning at home. This spring, schools loaned classroom devices to students so that they could participate in distance learning. These devices, though, will be given to students for them to keep. 

"Our children need to know that they will always be able to access learning. Children are already facing so much uncertainty in their lives," says Michele Neely, President of the SCSF. "They should never have to worry about how they can access lessons if schools provide distance learning again. Making sure that every single child has a device and access to the Internet is the minimum we must do to address equity in access to education." 

The SCSF also received a $1,000 grant from the Steve and Marjorie Foundation to provide devices to more students. The SCSF hopes that this generous donation is just the beginning of philanthropic support for this initiative. The SCSF and Inspiredu have set an initial goal of serving 1,500 low-income and at-risk state charter school students.

"The need is so great. From the moment I asked schools what they needed, we had requests for over 1,000 devices. The reality is that probably several thousand state charter school students across Georgia need electronic devices." says Neely. "This is not just a 'COVID-19 crisis.' To be successful in the workforce, students need to be proficient and comfortable using computers. Schools are moving towards homework on digital apps, and standardized testing is now conducted on devices. The pandemic has highlighted the need, but we must address the digital divide regardless of whether we have ongoing distance learning or not." 

Another significant need is access to the Internet, particularly for students living in rural areas in Georgia and impoverished communities. Access to high-speed Internet is critical for students, and state charter schools do not have the funding and resources to guarantee access for all students. 

Every donation makes a difference, and it only takes $400 to give a student a device and support for a year, or $30 a month to provide Internet access for a student.

To help the SCSF make a difference in the lives of students in need, make a donation by visiting the SCSF website . One hundred percent of donations will be used directly to provide devices, Internet access, or grants to schools. For corporate sponsorships, challenge donations/grants, and questions, contact Michele Neely at
State Works to Improve Internet Connectivity, Launches Internet Speedtest
The State of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) are working to improve internet connectivity for schools. GaDOE negotiated with major connectivity providers on behalf of the state and school districts and issued a list of wireless plan offers for Georgia public K-12 school districts. The Wireless Plans summary can be viewed here . For additional assistance, contact Chris Shealy at .

Additionally, in partnership with the Governor’s Office, GaDOE is encouraging Georgians to conduct internet speed tests on their devices, assisting the state with mapping connection speeds and targeting resources to boost the speeds of high-needs areas. To complete the test, visit .
GaDOE releases Attendance
and Full Time Equivalent Guidance
The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) released guidance regarding Attendance and Full Time Equivalent (FTE). The guidance, which can be found here , details information about FTE counts in different instructional environments for the upcoming school year. GaDOE sharded that though it does not have the authority to waive FTE requirements and processes, they are working to afford districts with as much flexibility as possible. For additional assistance, contact Tiffany Taylor at .
Georgia’s K-12 Restart Working Group provides School Meals: Restart Support Document
Georgia’s K-12 Restart Working Group released a School Meals: Restart Support document. The document provides guidance around three meal service models. Those include Traditional/Cafeteria; Mobile; and Packed/Delivery. School districts will have the flexibility and authority to adopt and implement the meal service model(s) that best meet their needs throughout the 2020-2021 school year. The level of COVID-19 community spread will be determined by state and local public health officials. To read the full School Meals: Restart Support document, click here .
Application Open for Third Round
of Rural Education Fund Grants
The Georgia Foundation for Public Education (GFPE), the foundation of the Georgia Department of Education, opened its application for the Rural Education Fund grants. The grants aim to help rural schools and districts meet their students’ needs. A limited number of grants of up to $5,000 each are available. Any public school or school district located in a Georgia county with a population of 35,000 or less is eligible to apply. All applicants must propose a project that would solve a current challenge within the school or district and would lead to positive student outcomes. To apply for the grant, visit the link here . The news release can be read here
State Charter Chatter
  • Several Brookhaven Innovation Academy students were named national finalists in the "Games for Change Challenge" coding competition, and one of the school's teachers won a statewide award. Another student was featured in the AJC and Fast Company for a coding project about COVID-19. The awards ceremony was June 17th. Read more here.
  • Several students from Foothills Education Charter School's pilot welding program were offered jobs at Kubota Industrial Equipment. Foothills partnered with the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission (NEGRC) and WorkForce Innovators of America (WIO America) to offer 18 Foothills students the opportunity to complete a 10-week welding program. Read more here.
SCSC Meetings
The next SCSC monthly board meeting scheduled for July 29 at 10:00 a.m. A list of upcoming meetings can be found on the  meetings page  of the  SCSC website.
GaDOE Assessment Update
As a reminder and due to the continuing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer administration of the Georgia Milestones EOC has been cancelled. Students who completed EOC-required courses prior to July 31 (Spring/Summer 2020) are waived from the EOC requirement and are not expected to participate in the EOC in any subsequent windows. Districts will be able to utilize the August mid-month and other future administrations for students who complete EOC-required courses after July 31. The  FAQ document  found on the Testing/Assessment Website has been updated to include more guidance regarding the cancellation of assessments through this time period. Please continuously check the  GaDOE Assessment and Training Calendar  for relevant trainings to attend.
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 July 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
SCSC Pandemic Planning for the 2020-21 School Year Webinar
Target Audience: School Leaders
July 13, 2020 - Held Virtually

State Charter School Commission staff will answer questions about developing a school wide pandemic plan for the 2020-21 school year. So that staff can provide the best information possible, please submit questions in advance (to the extent that it is possible) to SCSC General Counsel Cerrone Lockett at Sign up  here   for this webinar.

Target Audience: School Leaders, Data Reporting Staff
July 15, 2020 – Held Virtually

The goals of this training are to familiarize state charter school leaders with MyGaDOE and its applications ahead of the GaDOE Data Collections Conference in August. This entails ensuring that appropriate staff members are credentialed and able to access MyGaDOE; attendees understand GUIDE and; attendees are prepared to report critical components in the Data Collections applications. This half-day training is required for Year Zero (pre-operational) state charter school superintendents, principals, administrators, and data reporting personnel. Operational state charter school leaders and data reporting personnel who would like training on data reporting are encouraged to attend. Sign up  here  for this training. 

Target Audience: Testing Coordinators  
July 23, 2020 – Held Virtually

In preparation for Milestones testing, the Assessment and Accountability Division of GaDOE will be holding an Assessment Coordinators training for SCSC schools. The training will address the issues faced by testing coordinators from SCSC schools. Sign up  here  for this training.
Funding & Professional Development Opportunities
National Charter School Conference
Remote Learning Reopening Reimagining School
The 2020 National Charter Schools Conference will take place virtually over three days on July 16, 23 and 30. The virtual event will be an opportunity to focus on remote learning, re-opening in the fall, and reimagining what school will be in the future. More details about the upcoming event are available  here .

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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