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Plan would allow teaching flexibility

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ATLANTA - Local school systems could gain more flexibility in how they teach students under a $16.6 million education plan unveiled Thursday by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Mr. Cagle's agenda, unveiled at an Atlanta-area high school, would expand the concept of charter schools, which are exempt from certain state and federal regulations as long as they continue to meet academic standards and follow a "charter" or contract listing rules of operation. Under Mr. Cagle's plan, entire school districts would be allowed to become "charter systems," freeing all of their schools from the regulations.

"The idea here is really all about local control," Mr. Cagle said.

According to statistics provided by the lieutenant governor's office, charter schools have done better than other public schools at meeting the federal standards for improvement laid out in the federal No Child Left Behind law and have higher graduation rates.

State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox appeared with Mr. Cagle and threw her support behind the plan.

Mr. Cagle's plan also would encourage career academies, which combine elements of technical colleges along with high schools and allow students to earn college credits while working toward their high school diplomas.

The proposal would set aside $625,000 to give five school districts grants to help set themselves up as charter systems. An additional $1 million would be provided to help start five new career academies. The largest part of the plan, $15 million in bonds, would provide money to help with construction and other costs for the career academies.

In all, the plan would cost more than $16.6 million, none of it provided for in the $20.2 billion budget proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

But Mr. Cagle said he believed the General Assembly could come up with the money needed to cover the ideas.

"Certainly we feel like that there's a revenue (source) that can be found in the budgetary process," he said.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (678) 977-3709 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com.


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