J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO of the Gwinnett County School System, states that the district is “…interested in developing more charter schools to provide learning opportunities for students and their particular talents and interests.” That’s ironic, considering that Gwinnett is the largest district in the state and only has three charter schools; one of which, Ivy Prep Academy, is not even controlled by the district. The other two charter schools, New Life Academy of Excellence and Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology, do not provide transportation, therefore creating a barrier to access for students from low-income families, where one or both parents have to work and cannot transport outside of their assigned cluster.
Gwinnett County enrolls approximately 160,000 students, yet less than 1% of its students attend one of the three charter schools. If the district is serious about creating more charter schools, then it needs to translate the speech delivered to the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce into action. The district has the fiscal and human resources to transform itself into a true ‘world-class’ district, but appears content with making excuses about funding shortfalls.