Ivy Prep founder says funding conflict was resolved

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

NORCROSS -- The founder of Ivy Preparatory Academy said she's ready for the school's next chapter.

The Georgia Board of Education approved an agreement between Norcross-based Ivy Prep and Gwinnett County Public Schools that will keep the all-girls charter school open. Ivy Prep was one of 11 charter schools that received the state board's approval Tuesday following a Georgia Supreme Court vote that threatened to shut them down.

The landmark court decision shuttered the state commission that was created to approve and fund charter schools that had been rejected by local boards of education. In a 4-3 vote, the justices ruled that a law that created the Georgia Charter Schools Commission was illegal.

The ruling for a win for school systems, including Gwinnett County Public Schools, that argued that what the commission was doing was unconstitutional.

Following the Supreme Court's decision, Gilbert sought approval from the Gwinnett County Public Schools to keep Ivy Prep open. Earlier this month, the school board granted that approval, but a funding conflict almost led Gilbert to reject the agreement.

After further discussions with officials from the county school system and the state, Gilbert decided to move forward with the agreement with Gwinnett County Public Schools.

"This is the approval we have been seeking since 2007, and we have received it along with the assurances from state and local officials that our school will be treated and funded no less favorably than any other local school," Gilbert said. "We have received additional assurances that all of our out-of-district scholars will be allowed to remain at Ivy. We now can finally turn all of our attention to planning and preparing for the start of school."

Gwinnett County Public Schools will only give local tax dollars to the school for students who reside in the county, but the district is working with Ivy Prep to secure additional funding from the other students' home counties.

Girls from throughout metro Atlanta attend Ivy Prep because it opened in 2008 as a state-chartered special school. Because it received no local funding at the time, the school's attendance zone was not restricted.

The school will serve girls in grades 6 to 9 in the upcoming school year.