by: Tony Thomas Updated:
ATLANTA - Atlanta parents of charter school children packed a school board meeting Monday night, demanding the district fully fund their budgets.
There are about 15 charter schools in the Atlanta Public Schools system.
At issue is about $3 million APS is withholding from the charter school budgets due to a dispute over who should pay for legacy teacher pension costs.
One school, the Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, said it's losing about $400,000 a year and is facing cuts and larger class sizes if the money is not made available.
The charter schools have sued the district and won, but APS is holding the money in escrow while it appeals.
A sixth-grade student, Luke, said he's worried the dispute will change his school. He took his case to the board Monday night.
"My school barely has enough money as it is," Luke said.
"There is the threat of the school shutting down. Families and children are counting on you," parent Julie Stoverink told the board.
Citing the potential damage to the charter schools if nothing is done, Superintendent Erroll Davis wrote a letter to the leaders saying he will begin giving the money to the schools directly June 30, but he wants the cash back if the district wins the court appeal.
"We have never been more open and friendly to charters than we are right now. There is just one issue that divides us," Davis said.
Parents said that's a start, but do not believe it's enough.
"We need the money and we need to be viewed and regarded as equals," said parent Greg Parent.