Parents worry about children’s education as charter schools close over lack of funding

SOUTH FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — School enrollment has been on a steady decline for years — and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse.

Now, Channel 2 Action News has learned that local charter schools are closing because they don’t have the money to stay open.

Many people told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes they believe it’s going to hit certain communities hard.

Kipp Academy is known to have some of the best schools here in Georgia — and across the country.

Its school in South Fulton County is doing so well that officials had plans to expand it. But that’s on hold for now because Fulton County won’t be giving the school as much money as it had in the past.

“It’s a sense of family, and I think that’s another reason why our kids thrive so much because they can just feel that love,” said parent Tami Brodie.

The support and the one-on-one attention charter schools offer are what Brodie said she wanted for her two girls. She told Fernandes that Kipp South Fulton is exactly what they needed.

“The rigger, the intensity, the dedication that the administration, the faculty and staff presented is what my child needed,” Brodie said.

Right now, Kipp South Fulton only offers fifth through eighth grades. It has plans to expand from kindergarten through the eighth grade.

But since enrollment is down, and the Fulton County School District is paying charter schools a lower rate per child than what they paid before, expansion plans are now on hold.

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According to parents like Brodie, she wants other families to experience what her family has — their futures depend on it.

“They learn to take on responsibility. They learn to advocate for themselves. They learn to take the lead on a lot of things. So by time they get to high school, these kids are above the curve,” Brodie said.

Hapeville Charter Middle School is having the same funding problem. It decided to close its doors at the end of the next school year.

They’re now focusing on their high schoolers until they can figure things out.

“We want the same quality education as children on the Northside, as children in other cities, other states, and when these charter schools close their doors because of funding, I’m extremely sad,” said Helen Cummins, who is an advocate for education in South Fulton County.

Cummins told Fernandes that she fights for equity for all students. She hopes Fulton County School officials can do something to help the charter schools stay open.

“KIPP was revolutionary for us,” said Jill Flowers, who has children who graduated from Kipp South Fulton.

She said the education her son received has changed the trajectory of his whole life.

“I just know what a huge blessing KIPP South Fulton has been to our lives, how pivotal it’s been to my children’s sense of self and to their successes,” Flowers said.

Fulton County School told Fernandes on Monday that it is helping the charter schools raise funds to stay open.