Should the Georgia Board of Education revoke the charter of the Macon Charter Academy in Macon-Bibb, it will be the first time the board has ever terminated a charter.
Both at the administrative level and on the ground for parents in Macon-Bibb, it would be a dig deal. On the morning of the hearing, Macon Charter leaders held an assembly to explain to their students just what was going on.
All 150 or so Macon Charter students were in the school auditorium. Asking them to get loud enough to bring down the walls, Head of School Georgia Gary led them in a cheer.
"I am somebody! Who are you?" she said through the PA.
"I am somebody!" the kids shouted in return.
Gary said that’s why they are trying to keep the school afloat. Because each kid is somebody.
Monya Rutland is the one of the founders of the school and present school board chair. She told students that the hearing would be an antidote to rumors they may have heard.
"What we’ll have an opportunity today is tell the Macon Charter Academy story. They’re going to hear it directly from us," she said.
From the Macon Charter point of view, that is a story of a school on the hallowed grounds of pre-integration era black schools serving a mostly African American population in a school system almost entirely below the poverty line.
The metrics tell a different story. Students here outperform their schools of origin on some Georgia Milestones Test measures but they also perform far worse in others. Overall, from subject to subject the school's scores work like a sine wave a touch above and below Bibb County Schools' averages. That’s not what was promised in the school’s charter.
Shantavia Jackson’s kids came from Burdell Elementary which did better than Macon Charter in math and science in 2016 test scores. Still, she says if Macon Charter closes, her kids will leave Macon-Bibb.
"I’ll transfer them to another county and drive them everyday. I will. To keep them from Bibb County Public School Systems," Jackson said.
Bibb County Schools Superintendent Curtis Jones said he hopes parents like Jackson would give his schools a second look.
"We have good principals, we have good teachers we have good facilities and we have a good plan," Jones said.
It remains to be seen if that will be good enough for parents of students at Macon Charter Academy.
Support for Health, Education, and Poverty reporting on GPB Macon comes from the Peyton Anderson Foundation.