- GREENE COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM
- Charter School Management FAQ
Statement from the Greene County Board of Education Regarding the LOA Funding Lawsuit
The Greene County Board of Education supports Lake Oconee Academy (LOA) and wholeheartedly recognizes the benefit the school provides to the Greene County community. As a high-performing charter school, LOA has consistently demonstrated excellence in all its academic endeavors. LOA is also one of the best-funded charter schools in the state, receiving funding from the Greene County Board of Education at a rate of more than $1 million dollars a month, plus $1.34 million a year to pay for the bond payment on their original footprint and over $400,000 a year in ESPLOST expenditures. There are no other charter schools in Georgia that receive the financial support that the Greene County Board of Education has given LOA.
In 2020, Lake Oconee Academy filed a lawsuit against the the Greene County Board of Education alleging breach of the charter contract and that the district owes LOA approximately $1.2 million. At the heart of this litigation is a misunderstanding on the part of LOA's leadership regarding how much funding they believe the school should receive according to their own calculations, versus how much funding the school has actually received, which has been allocated by the Greene County School System according to the State of Georgia's Charter School Funding Formula, which is an independent, objective measure. It is the desire of the Greene County Board of Education to resolve these issues through cooperation and transparency, and in the best interest of Greene County's students.
FAQ Regarding LOA Funding
What is the connection between LOA's original Charter Application and the Executed Charter Contract? Which one determines how the school system funds LOA?
Summary: LOA maintains that the GCSS owes them considerable back payments because of what LOA contends is a conflict between 2 documents and LOA’s argument that the latter document overrides the first. They argue that GCSS should pay them for whatever number of students they enrolled (up to 1,051 students) as opposed to using a table and budget agreed to in the first document and referenced specifically in the second. The GCSS maintains the second document is not legally binding because it was not approved by the BOE, that for 4 years both parties have been following the first document, that the head of the GA DOE responsible for Charter school administration agreed with the practice outlined in the first document, and, lastly, if the second document were to be followed to the letter, LOA would be owing the GCSS for back payments.
Detailed Explanation: There were 2 documents that describe the Charter approved for the 2017-2024 Fiscal Years. The first was an “Application” totaling 74 pages that detailed the objectives LOA must meet AND detailed instructions as to how GCSS’ payments to LOA are to be determined. The Application summarized an agreed Enrollment Cap (the number of students for which GCSS must pay) for each year and specified the algorithm for determining each year the Per Student Funding Formula (the “Formula”) that was applied to the Enrollment Cap. The second was a “Contract” totaling 21 pages that did not include much of the detail that was in the Application but did contain language referencing “Compliance with approved budget included in locally-approved charter application.” There is also wording that the Contract “overrides any provisions contained in the petition (Application) that conflict with this Charter (Contract),” The Contract states that LOA may enroll up to 1,051 students and must be paid at least $10,730/student, On this basis, LOA maintains the GCSS owes them for every student enrolled by them independent of the Application, AND that the student count be priced at the Formula that was computed each year according to the algorithm in the Application. On this basis, LOA maintains the GCSS owes them considerable back payments.
The GCSS takes exception to LOA’s position. First, as indicated, the relevant part of the Application was included and specifically referenced in the Contract. Second, the application was the sole document referenced in the detailed negotiations involving the state, LOA and the GCSS—and it was modified per those negotiations AND SIGNED by all parties in January 2016. The BOE Chairman signed with the approval of the BOE. The Contract appeared 4-5 months later and was signed by the then Chairman of the BOE, but the rest of the BOE did not see this document until years later—AND NEVER APPROVED IT. The GCSS believes this makes the document non-binding on GCSS.
Regardless, BOTH parties followed the process outlined in the Application for the first 4 years of the Charter, including recognizing the Enrollment Cap table in that document. Third, when this issue first arose, the BOE asked the head of the state DOE department who oversees charter schools what course should we follow—in writing he agreed with the process we were using from the Application. Finally, the state funding Formula is in the Application. If the Application was not relevant, the Contract says the BOE only has to pay no less than $10,730 per student. This is far less than the over $12,620 that LOA is currently receiving per student based on the state funding formula in the Application. The difference is roughly $2 million/year. This would not be helpful for LOA
Did GCSS violate a precedent by not funding the LOA matriculation model?
Summary: In FYs 2018-2020, LOA requested additions to the Enrollment Cap to allow “matriculation” of students. GCSS approved those additions, but only on a year-by-year basis. Beginning in 2021 FY, LOA maintains that the GCSS reneged on its implied funding of the matriculation model. They claim that this put students at risk of being disenrolled and teachers at risk of being laid off. LOA claims that GCSS broke an “implied” contract. GCSS made it clear to LOA for each of these requests that the approval for additions to the Enrollment Cap only applied for the year in which it was requested. For the 2021 FY, LOA requested funding for 1,032 students to allow matriculation. GCSS authorized 1,006 students noting that, with the substantial increase in the Per Student Funding Formula, LOA had plenty of revenue to achieve its goals and there was no need to agree to an Enrollment Cap beyond what was already approved. History has proven GCSS correct, with LOA finishing 2021 FY with 1,033 students enrolled, paying for all of its new facilities, and ending the year with a $2.6-million budget surplus—and no forced layoff of teachers or disenrollment of students.
- Each year that the BOE approved an Enrollment Cap more than the Enrollment Cap in the original Charter Application, the approval document made clear that the approval applied to that particular year—and only that year. Minutes of the meetings also make it clear that the approval of a higher Enrollment Cap applied only for that year. That message was made very clear to LOA. There are other important legal reasons why a BOE cannot bind taxpayers funds legally in an implied contract. Any commitment of the BOE must be in writing and approved by a majority of the BOE.
- LOA funding is determined by multiplying the Enrollment Cap (agreed student count) times a Per Student Payment Formula (the “Formula”). Since the beginning of the Charter, the Formula increased for a variety of reasons that had little to do with LOA’s needs. (See below for why the Formula grows so surprisingly.) By the 2021 FY, the Formula stood at $12,341/student, compared with the Charter projection of $10,730/student—an increase of 15%. At the Enrollment Cap approved by the BOE (1,006 students), GCSS’s payment to LOA increased by almost $2 million per year from the original Charter Application projection. Prior to establishing the 2021 FY budget, LOA released an expenditure forecast that supported 1,032 students, which supported its “Matriculation” model. When coupled with the revenue driven by the approved 1,006 Enrollment Cap, LOA was able to put together a budget that generated a $175,000 positive cash flow and satisfied the Matriculation model. LOA didn’t need any more revenue to achieve its objectives, and the BOE didn’t see the need to increase the Enrollment Cap since LOA was free to enroll on their own up to 1,051 students. Despite all this, LOA continued to object to the approved Enrollment Cap of 1,006 students versus their proposed 1,032 students—claiming, like the present, the probability of student dis-enrollments and teacher layoffs. They also filed their lawsuit.
- At the September 2021 LOA Board of Governors meeting, LOA released its final budget performance report for the 2021 FY. Instead of the budgeted $175,000 surplus, LOA achieved a $2.6 million surplus -- albeit $1.8 million of that surplus was due to an unanticipated COVID-related payment of $1.8 million—still the basic surplus was improved from $175,000 to $800,000 which is an almost five-fold increase. LOA achieved a 1,033-student count in the October 2020 census, a 48% increase since the beginning of the present Charter. Its actual revenue supported the original LOA administrative building and elementary school complex, a middle school, a new high school, 2 basketball arenas, 2 cafeterias, a baseball field, and a gym. It also covered the preliminary cost of a football field and a fieldhouse. There were no student dis-enrollments or teacher layoffs caused by lack of funds.
- Going forward, the Formula is projected to continue to grow faster than expected—reaching $14,000/student, compared with the original Charter projection of $10,730/student. This will more than double the surplus from the original Charter Agreement revenue projection. At issue here is what does LOA need to achieve the Matriculation Model. Like the 2021 FY, LOA is asking for revenue based on an Enrollment Cap for the 2022 FY based on the Matriculation model—in this case, 1,051 students. We suspect that, like 2021, LOA can put together a budget that achieves their objectives, generates positive cash flow, and is based on an Enrollment Cap that is less than 1,051 students. Like last year, LOA is claiming significant risk of student dis-enrollments and teacher layoffs. We have asked for them to share with us what they need financially to achieve their objectives, and we are confident we can work with them to provide it, especially with the continued escalation of the Formula. So far, they have declined to share their needs with us. We are available anytime to sit down with them to review their plans/funding needs going forward. It is time to stop fighting and get down to business!
- Incidentally, given the substantial financial base LOA has shown by the 2021 FY results and the surplus of funds that will be coming with the fast-growing Formula, it is hard to imagine the Armageddon that LOA has described in terms of teacher lay-offs and student dis-enrollments.
- Memo: What drives the Formula? The algorithm that drives the Formula essentially computes LOA’s share of county revenue from the year before. This means it is driven in part by GCSS spending. So, for example, it grew as a result of the GCSS having to restore its reserves that had been drained by a prior board and it will grow as the GCSS wrestles with funding a new Primary School. It also grows uniquely in Greene County’s case because LOA is such a big portion of our budget. When we increase our budget to handle LOA growth and the prior resetting of the Formula, that causes us to require more local taxes. When that happens, the algorithm picks this up the following year and the Formula goes up and the algorithm picks it up again, and so on. This does not happen elsewhere because other counties’ charter schools are much smaller parts of their overall budgets. The point- none of the above is based on what LOA’s needs are. It leads to a process where a revenue is determined based on a mindless formula and LOA figures out a way to spend it—instead of identifying need and figuring out how to finance it. We have it backward.
Was LOA denied an austerity rebate of $300,000 by the GCSS?
Summary: LOA maintains that it should get its share of the $600,000 that was rebated to Greene County when the state adjusted its cutback of state funding. They argue that they are due $300,000. GCSS met with LOA’s team and explained that the GCSS and LOA had always used the state algorithm to compute the Per Student Funding Formula that determines GCSS payments to LOA. The Formula historically is run in January. In running it this January, it missed the state Austerity Cut rebate of $600,000. GCSS offered to run the algorithm in April to pick up the rebate—but it also picked up other negative changes that reduced state payments to the county. This calculation improved LOA’s payments by $89,000. LOA remained committed to its $300,000 demand—choosing to recognize only the changes favorable to them. We believe that the calculations should include all the formula factors—not just factors favorable to one side or the other. The LOA team rejected the compromise and abruptly left the meeting.
- LOA's budget runs one year behind their state earnings in order to give the district and LOA a chance to plan for their budget needs. (This has been the case since the beginning of this charter agreement.) As such, they did not experience the state austerity cuts during the ‘COVID year’ and were fully funded. Their cut will be experienced in the FY22 budget, and their restoration from the state will be lagging for the same reason. There is not and has never been a desire to shortchange them any funding.
- The Per Student Funding Formula is multiplied by the Enrollment Cap (the authorized enrollment at LOA that will be funded to determine LOA’s annual payment from the GCSS. Historically, it is computed each year in January so it can be included in the LOA and GCSS budgets for the following FY.
- The Formula is determined by a state algorithm that computes LOA’s share of the previous year’s state, local tax, Federal and miscellaneous revenue collected by the GCSS and dividing that by the previous year’s number of students. For 5 years, this calculation has been agreed by both parties to the penny. It is the calculation of the formula for the 2022 FY that is in question.
- As normal, this year the state gathered historical enrollment data for LOA and the GCSS and using a detailed formula (called the QBE sheet) to compute what state payments should go to the GCSS as a whole and how much should be allotted to LOA. As normal, the state payments to both LOA and the GCSS were reduced by something called the “Local Fair Share” (LFS), which is a reduction imposed by the state on school systems that is based on a set, 5-mil share of their respective property tax base. In this case, the reduction was $7.8 million.
- The state payments also were reduced $1 million by something called the “Austerity Adjustment” that was allocated to both the LOA and total GCSS payments. This adjustment was made by the General Assembly as recommended by the Governor as part of the original FY21 state budget at the time when there was concern about the state’s ability to fund schools normally given the COVID-19 Pandemic. The algorithm was run to determine the state payments to all public-school districts and charter schools in the state, including LOA and the total GCSS.
- Local taxes (primarily property taxes) constitute about 70-75% of the total GCSS General Fund Budget. This tax revenue for the prior year was allocated to LOA based on the ratio of computed state payments to LOA to the computed state payments to GCSS as a whole.
- Including some minor Federal and other funding, the total dollars theoretically computed to be coming to LOA were divided by the number of actual LOA students and a 3% statutory management fee was deducted– and the result was a Formula of $12,240/student.
- After January 2021, and after the above calculations had been made, the 2021 General Assembly rebated $600,000 of the $1 million Austerity Adjustment. LOA has requested that it share in this rebate immediately—and computed a Formula of $12,551/student that would give LOA an increased payment of $316,000.
- The Charter does not specify when the calculation is to be made but precedent would dictate that the January calculation be used. Sticking with the prior calculation date means LOA would fully receive the impact of the rebate next year.
- Nevertheless, at a meeting involving the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of LOA and GCSS, the GCSS team offered to run the algorithm again based on state computations that would be run anyway in April for something called the “Mid-Term Adjustment”. This run would pick up the Austerity rebate. But it also picked up other changes including an increase in the Local Fair Share deduction that increased by $300,000 to an $8.1- million reduction in payments. It also picked up the March student census and a revision of the state’s cost formulas. The resulting Formula was computed to be $12,327/student resulting in an increase in payments to LOA of $89,000 but short of LOA’s computation of $316,000.
- If LOA ran their own algorithm that used January data to determine LOA’s state payment that excluded the higher Local Fair Share deduction, but included the lower Austerity cut while using April data for the GCSS calculation that picked up the LFS increase and the other changes, this would not be logical. If the process is going to be moved from the January calculation date, it will be crucial that, whatever date is agreed upon, it includes all the changes that occur(ed) in that period—not just the changes that benefit one party or the other. The LOA team rejected the compromise and abruptly left the meeting.
Is GCSS keeping State Funds That Should Go to LOA for Growth Above the Enrollment Cap?
Summary: LOA says it should receive the state funding that is associated with the students in excess of the Enrollment Cap recognized by the GCSS—in the present case the difference between 1,051 and the planned Enrollment Cap of 1,013. The transfer of these funds from GCSS to LOA is dependent on whether the State sees growth in the entire county enrollment and if the LOA growth is the result in new students.
- For the 2022 FY, if the present impasse remains, LOA will receive annual payments computed by multiplying the Enrollment Cap that is in the Charter of 1,013 students times the formula computed by the GCSS of $12,551/student. The Formula reflects the state payments due LOA.
- However, LOA is enrolling 1,051 students but being paid for only 1,013 students which means it is not receiving, via the Formula, state payments for 38 students.
- However, in April, when the state recognizes enrollment growth from the prior year, LOA receives something called the “Mid-Year Adjustment”. As stipulated in the Charter, this adjustment gives them the state payment for any student growth achieved for the county as a whole. If county growth is at least as great as the LOA growth, they will receive the state funding for the 38 students. If some of the LOA growth comes at the expense of transfers from the GCSS, LOA will receive funding only for the net. For example, if LOA grows by 38 students but the GCSS declines 20 students, then LOA will receive only part of the state payments they have generated for the 38 students.
- We recognize this discrepancy, but it is part of the overall Charter—which should be improved in many areas including this one. We stand ready to address this if and when we get together to iron out our differences.
Is LOA projected to be in financial trouble soon, requiring the laying off of teachers and dis-enrollment of students?
Summary: During the LOA State of the School Address, LOA said it will be in the red within the next year or two if the GCSS doesn’t pay LOA what LOA thinks should be paid. This will require teacher layoffs and student dis-enrollments. In fact, the speakers spoke as though the shutdown of LOA was imminent. GCSS is not aware of this issue. LOA has not shown any financial projections to support this. It leaves open the question of why LOA would choose to reveal this at an open public meeting without first sharing this information with the GCSS. Similar to this year, LOA requested funding last year for 1,032 students to allow matriculation. GCSS authorized 1,006 students noting that, with the substantial increase in the Per Student Funding Formula, LOA had plenty of revenue to achieve its goals, and there was no longer a need to agree to an Enrollment Cap beyond what was already approved. History has proven GCSS correct, with LOA finishing 2021 FY with 1,032 students enrolled, paying for all of its new facilities, and ending the year with a $2.6-million budget surplus—and no forced layoff of teachers or disenrollment of students. Similarly to 2021 FY, if LOA would be more transparent in its dealing with the GCSS, then we are confident we would be able to work out a mutually beneficial way for LOA to achieve its objectives going forward.
Additional information: We had a similar situation leading into the 2021 FY, where LOA gave GCSS a spending forecast that supported the Matriculation Model student count of 1,032 students and all their other programs. We approved a spending cap of 1,006 students that, with the escalated Per Student Funding Formula, (which was up 15% from the Charter projection) supported this forecast and gave them an acceptable positive cash flow. Like now, LOA leadership warned of layoffs, program suspensions, and student dis-enrollments. Recently, LOA released its final budget performance report for the 2021 FY. Instead of the budgeted $175,000 surplus, LOA achieved a $2.6 million surplus-- albeit $1.8 million of that surplus was due to an unanticipated COVID-related payment—still the basic surplus was improved almost five-fold. LOA achieved a 1,033-student count in the October 2020 census, a 48% increase since the beginning of the present Charter. Its financials supported the original LOA administration building and elementary school complex, a middle school, a new high school, 2 basketball arenas, 2 cafeterias, a baseball field, and a gym. It also covered the preliminary cost of a football field and a fieldhouse. There were no student dis-enrollments or teacher layoffs caused by lack of funds. Similarly to 2021 FY, if LOA would be more transparent in its dealing with the GCSS then we are confident we would be able to work out a mutually beneficial way for LOA to achieve its objectives going forward.
Did BOE Chairman Mike Lynch say he has no plans to renew LOA's charter?
Summary: No, Mike Lynch emphatically denies having made the alleged statement, or that to non-renew LOA's charter is his plan. He challenges Mr. Mark Lipscomb (who accused Mr. Lynch of having said this) to identify the source of his information. Mr. Lynch believes LOA is a tremendous asset to the community and has been a supporter of LOA for some time, including opening up his personal pocketbook at fundraisers to support LOA's academic and extracurricular programs.
How much more efficient is LOA’s per pupil spending than GCSS?
Summary: LOA showed several slides comparing the expenditures on various schools from LOA and the GCSS—e.g., they showed GCHS costing $18,500/student and LOA HS costing $8,900/student. Comparing individual school costs can be misleading in terms of where certain functions are performed. When performing a detailed comparison of the two schools systems, LOA is only about 3% more efficient than GCSS and the difference can be more than accounted for by LOA not providing student transportation.
- Comparing specific school costs can be misleading. Different school systems deploy services differently. Some are more centralized and perform more services centrally than others. In the case of Greene County, this is more of an issue because of services provided to LOA by the GCSS.
- In addition, the tasks faced by different schools can be markedly different—for example, GCSS schools have a much higher number of disadvantaged students that are more expensive to teach. On one measurement GCSS has over 4X the number of special needs students than LOA.
- Furthermore, it should be noted that some of the costs associated with this disparity (especially at GCHS) were incurred in the attempt to provide College and Career opportunities equally to LOA and GCSS students, including initially putting two career pathways exclusively at LOA. To date, LOA has found multiple excuses why their students cannot participate at GCHS and have attempted to block GCHS students from taking CCA courses at LOA, citing “lack of space.” GCSS continues to expand the number of different pathways offered at the College and Career academy and these pathways cost more than regular classes.
- When analyzing total school systems using the latest state data, the actual total GCSS cost is about $15 thousand per student. The LOA system costs the county about $11,000/student. Therefore, LOA costs about 73% of the GCSS cost. Here is the link to the sheet with the source of the information and the computation of the data.
- The state’s QBE costing system was used to determine what the state would expect the 2 systems to cost per student. The state QBE algorithm looks at 21 categories of students as well as 10 categories of indirect cost—and applies cost/student values to each category. The direct cost of students can vary as much as $4,200/student to $30,000/student depending on the needs of the student. Using the latest QBE sheets, the ratio of projected LOA cost as a percentage of GCSS cost should be 77%. The expected lower cost of the LOA system reflects the greater task GCSS faces given the mix of students it must teach. Here is the link to the sheet with the source of the information and the computation of the data.
- So, after adjusting for the more difficult task of the GCSS, the resulting cost/student are roughly the same. In fact, the difference between 73% and 77% is more than accounted for by GCSS providing transportation and LOA not.
- We should conclude by noting that the GCSS is sensitive to the need to ensure each taxpayer dollar allocated is wisely spent. For example, 2 years ago, we closed Greensboro Elementary saving over $1 million annually. Some of these savings are now being redeployed in further improving the academic performance of our school system.
- Comparing specific school costs can be misleading. Different school systems deploy services differently. Some are more centralized and perform more services centrally than others. In the case of Greene County, this is more of an issue because of services provided to LOA by the GCSS.
Are GCSS expenditures up over $18 million year over year?
Summary: LOA stated that the GCSS expenditures are up over $18 million over last year—implying lax budgeting on the part of the BOE and implying that GCSS has the money to pay LOA what it wants. GCSS did increase its budget largely due to providing for the new Primary School, LOA increases, a government-required reclassification, state-dictated economic cost increases, and COVID relief efforts that are fully funded by the Federal Government.
The local budget that is funded by a combination of local taxes, state contributions, and a planned drawdown of cash reserves increased by $6.8 million due to:
- $4.9 million for the demolition of GES and initial payments for the construction of the new Primary School.
- $400,000 increase in LOA payments
- $800,000 cost of adding transportation costs back to the local budget since COVID funds can’t be used to offset these costs
- $700,000 increase in state-dictated Teacher Retirement, insurance costs and salary step increases
The Federal programs budget increased by $5.2 million due to $4.9 millionof one-time CARES funding and $300,000 of payments for other Federal programs and USDA School Nutrition funding. These programs are fully funded by the Federal Government,
The Capital Programs Budget increased by $7.6 million due to budgeting for the new Primary School. This budget is funded by ESPLOST (educational 1% sales tax)receipts.
- Note: The categories above include budgeting the LOA Debt Service of $1.3 million in two places due to a quirk in the state required budget reporting.
Should GCSS pay LOA whatever it wants given the local booming economy?
Mr. Lipscomb states that the county can afford to pay LOA what it wants due to the booming economy in Greene County. That is not the purpose of the Board of Education, nor does it make sense to pay for things that don’t make sense. The Board’s approval of expenditures is based on the Board’s vision, mission, and goals for the entire school system. The Board’s decisions are made based on how much the taxpayers can financially support now and in the years to come and are based on sound educational principals. The Board ensures that every tax dollar is spent wisely and for the good of all students.
Did GCSS increase its fund balance by $3 million in 2021 FY?
Summary: LOA notes that the GCSS increased its fund balance in 2021 FY to $13 million (from $10 million) instead of funding LOA for what it wants. GCSS did plan to increase its fund balance in 2021 FY due to the anticipation of building a new school in the future.
GCSS has an objective of always having $10 million in the fund balance. This is in-line with other counties (e, g, Morgan, Putnam) and organizations (less than the Greene County Board of Commissioners). GCSS minimum fund balance is $6 million. Once GCSS goes below $6 million, GCSS can’t meet the ebb and flow of cash needs for GCSS and LOA during the year. In 2021 FY GCSS built the reserve by $3 million in anticipation of needing funds for the new Primary School. At the end of the 2022 FY, the fund balance is projected to return to the $10 million range as we begin to incur costs for the new school.
Why was LOA given only 20% of the GCSS's federally provided COVID Relief Funds?
Summary: LOA states that they were allocated only 20% of $10 million CARES funding when they have 40% of the students in the county. However, the CARES funds allocated to the county are based on the number of economically disadvantaged students we have in the county. LOA only educates 11% of Greene County economically disadvantaged students. The Board of Education generously allocated 20% of the CARES monies to LOA…nine points more than required.
Detailed Explanation: GCSS worked with State and Federal officials to confirm that CARES funds were allocated to Georgia school districts in direct proportion to the percentage of total state Title I funds (based on poverty percentages) each district received under the Federal Title I, Part A. (i.e.: Districts with higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students received more CARES funds). The allocation was directed at economically disadvantaged students and at-risk students because they were the ones deemed to be most damaged by remote learning (e.g.: lack of internet or computers, lack of support for success, etc.). Greene County received a large allocation because of the large number of economically disadvantaged students it has. (Neighboring Oconee County received far fewer funds, despite being 4 times as large.)
LOA educates 11% of Greene County's economically disadvantaged student population (per 2021 data). In addition, it had less exposure to remote learning than did the GCSS students. This would argue for a 11% allocation. Instead, the GCSS generously allocated 20% of the funds to LOA.
Is GCSS keeping a substantial amount of State money that is really earned by LOA?
Summary: LOA argues that the GCSS is keeping a substantial amount of state money that is being earned by LOA. This is not true since LOA receives its share of state funds through the Formula calculation. The Formula includes the state funding. In addition, the state only provides 25% of our funding. Almost all of the remaining 75% of the balance is provided by Greene County taxpayers. Since payments to LOA from GCSS exceed the contract amount and their own calculated per pupil cost, the excess payments are disproportionately borne by Greene County taxpayers.
Does GCSS collect a 3% Management Fee and is GCSS keeping that 3% from LOA?
Summary: Although the State charter statute specifically authorizes the district to retain 3% of the earnings of a charter school as a fee for the administrative costs associated with having a local charter school, LOA seeks to have that amount repaid to it and to spend additional time and money in detailing exactly how that 3% is spent. GCSS adheres to State law and GCSS deducts this fee from LOA's funding. LOA never gets the 3%. GCSS doesn't include the 3% amount in its tax levy calculations. GCSS never gets the 3% from the taxpayers. GCSS handles payroll, human resources, special education administration and many other items for LOA, but GCSS does it as part of its daily work to save Greene County taxpayers money. GCSS has checked with other districts and with school funding experts around the State and it is a common practice to withhold the fee without providing line-item detail.
Will the majority of the BOE members support LOA and their claims in these matters?
Summary: Mr. Lipscomb stated that he hoped all five BOE members would continue to support LOA, but he felt very hopeful that at least three of them would support LOA. The present BOE has voted 5-0 consistently in supporting the recommendations of the Superintendent on LOA requests.
How are LOA’s new buildings really funded?
Mr. Lipscomb said that all the new buildings and athletic facilities (high school, basketball arena, gym, baseball field) were built and paid for by the LOA Foundation and that LOA hadn’t asked the GCSS to fund any of those projects.
This is a major misrepresentation. Legally, the LOA Foundation pays the bills for the new buildings. However, a substantial portion of the LOA Foundation’s income comes from a 30-year lease for which LOA is committed. LOA’s commitment was essential to back the loan taken by the LOA Foundation to build the new facilities. The lease agreement also commits LOA to funding the LOA Foundation’s expenses for operating the new facilities. LOA’s income comes from GCSS payments to LOA. Thus, the funding of the new facilities effectively comes from Greene County taxpayers.
Greene County taxpayers need to understand that the LOA Foundation’s accounts have never been released to the public and the LOA Foundation operates outside the guidance and oversight of the Board of Education.
The above FAQ section will be updated as further information becomes available.
Please direct all communication or media questions to:
Director of Communications
Greene County School System
101 East Third Street
Greensboro, GA 30642
Office: (706) 453-7688