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New charter schools will increase education options for Georgia students

Seven new charter schools in Georgia will provide more education options for K-12 students in the 2022-23 school year.

The State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia approved six charter schools this week after signing off on one in November, adding to the 116 charter schools operating in the state.

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of excellent public schools that successfully meet the needs of students and local communities,” Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA) President and CEO Tony Roberts said. “We’re grateful for the opportunities these new schools will bring to Georgia’s children and the confidence the State Charter Schools Commission continues to place in the ability of GCSA Charter Incubator candidates to open and sustain successful schools.”

Georgia’s public charter schools’ enrollment increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as enrollment in traditional public schools declined, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF) said.

Georgia Department of Education officials said in January public school enrollment for the 2020-21 school year was about 36,000 students short of the previous school year. Meanwhile, Georgia’s largest online public charter school saw a 28% increase in enrollment, GPPF said, and charter school enrollment was up more than 9% from the previous school year.

According to GPPF, 77 of Georgia’s charter schools are locally approved charters, and 39 are state-authorized public charters.

Five of the public charter schools approved by the State Charter Schools Commission on Wednesday participated in GCSA’s Charter Incubator program. The program recruits and trains talent to start public charter schools in the state. The commission also approved the launch of a virtual school, Destinations Career Academy of Georgia. The schools will be open to 3,200 students mostly in the metro Atlanta area and offer unique learning environments for those children.

Students enrolled at Destinations Career Academy of Georgia will have access to job shadowing, internships and apprenticeship opportunities, according to the school’s Facebook page.

Liberation Academy, a middle school in southeast Atlanta, will “provide a learning experience rooted in engaging and empowering students to think critically about their world,” GCSA said.

DeKalb Brilliance Academy in south DeKalb County will incorporate social-emotional and entrepreneurship in its curriculum. Students will get to learn directly from scientists, lawyers, engineers, designers and other professionals.

Miles Ahead Charter School in southern Cobb County would provide STEM education and digital-focused education for its students. Peace Academy Charter School in southeast Atlanta will engage students in multicultural studies. ZEST Preparatory Academy in Douglas County will specifically focus on literacy and leadership development.

“We are excited and honored to have the opportunity to bring a school focused on leadership to the Douglas County community,” Monique Carruthers, ZEST Preparatory Academy’s founder, said. “Our model is designed to hone the skills of our young leaders, so they are prepared to take a seat at the table of opportunity through scholarship and service.”

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