The room was filled to capacity Monday night as founder and executive director Nina Gilbert explained the school's next move after being denied a five-year charter with Gwinnett County Public Schools.
Gilbert announced that Ivy Preparatory Academy, founded in 2008, will seek to become a State Charter Special School with the state of Georgia.
"We will now seek state approval, and look forward to working closely with the Georgia Department of Education to ensure that our instructional program is not disrupted, and that none of our scholars are displaced," announced Gilbert in a statement posted on the school's website.
"We have always known that this outcome was possible, and we stand prepared to transition to a State Charter Special School once our petition has been reviewed and approved by the State Board of Education."
Last Thursday, Jan. 19, during its monthly board meeting in Suwanee, GCPS leaders rejected the all-girls school's application for a five-year charter. Ivy Prep had been operating on a one-year GCPS charter approved last year when the school lost its commissioned school status in May 2011 after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled commissioned charter schools unconstitutional.
Despite that blow to charter schools, Gov. Nathan Deal announced during his State of the State address two weeks ago that he fully supported charter schools and was recommending $8.7 million in supplemental grants for state chartered special schools affected by the Georgia Supreme Court ruling on charter schools.
"These schools are key to Georgia’s educational success and without these additional dollars, they would be forced to operate on approximately half of the funds of other public schools," said Deal in his speech.
"However, this is not the long-term solution, and I look forward to working with you to ensure that charter schools can thrive in Georgia," said Deal.
Ivy Preparatory Academy saw its funding nearly cut in half after it lost its status as a commissioned charter school. GCPS offered Ivy Preparatory Academy $4,300 per student in funding, while GCPS's 133 schools receive some $7,500 per student.
"Your children deserve equitable funding," Ivy Preparatory's Board Vice Chair, Christopher Kunney, told the more than 150 parents, students and supporters Monday night. "Rest assured we will find that funding elsewhere. We have a lot of support from those who want us to succeed."
State Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Dist. 101) told the group gathered Monday night, that the Georgia Constitution needs to be modified for charter schools to survive. "We're going to get something done on charter schools this year," said Brockway. He pointed out that support by the House and the Senate for the amendment was crucial as two-thirds vote was needed for a constitutional change.
According to a GPB News report, a constitutional amendment was filed on Tuesday which "would give the state the power to create charter schools and would allow the state to move money from public school districts into charter schools."