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Two Newton schools part of state charter report

COVINGTON -- An annual charter schools report from the Georgia Department of Education mentions two Newton County Schools.

The report includes the Newton College and Career Academy, which is one of 11 new start-up charter schools in Georgia that opened during the 2011-12 school year, as well as Challenge Charter Academy, which was the only state charter school designated as a priority school, or the state's 5 percent lowest performing Title I schools, due to academics.

"With improvements in academic performance across the board, I'm confident that our charter schools are a great option for parents and students," said state school Superintendent John Barge in a press release.

The state is made up of 217 charter schools, a 34 percent increase, including 14 charter systems. Enrollment in charter schools in Georgia has more than doubled in the last three years to 130,492 in the 2011-12 school year, according to the report.

Challenge Charter Academy, which opened in 2008, shows that 136 students are enrolled with a nearly 75 percent retention rate; the school employees 12 teachers, two administrators and two support staff with about a 79 percent teacher retention rate.

None of the school's 2012 End of Course Tests were better than the district's in English language arts, math and science, according to the report. The 2011 graduation rate was 7.1 percent, and the student attendance rate was 88 percent in 2011 and 2012, below the district's rate of nearly 96 percent both years.

Financially, the report shows that the school's general fund was running a negative balance of more than $13,000 and it has a monthly facility cost of $72,000; most of its expenses are spent on instruction.

The school lists some of its accomplishments as having its first graduate who began at the school in ninth grade; having 18 total, including eight additional, community partnerships; and starting a school PTO.

A report was not available on NCCA because the school has no accountability data since their students' academic performance is included only in their home school's results, according to the GaDOE.

The state shows that Newton County is one of 14 school districts, excluding charter system districts, that have more than eight percent of its schools under a charter contract, even though it is only two of 23 schools.