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Local chamber opposes Amendment 1

Published 8:17am Friday, October 19, 2012

On Nov. 6, voters across the state will vote to change the Constitution of the State of Georgia. The proposed amendment would create a state appointed panel with the ability to approve applications for charter schools, circumventing the local boards of education and the State Department of Education.

The Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors urge Decatur County citizens to vote “No” on the proposed amendment.

In our view, we see the creation of the panel as unnecessary, costly to operate, and an increasing financial burden for our local school system. This panel would also increase the probability that out-of- state, for-profit corporations would enter the public education arena in Georgia.

The enabling legislation connected to this amendment allocates $430 million over the next five years to fund these state-approved charter schools.

Our local school system is currently facing an unprecedented financial shortfall in state funding. Classroom sizes have increased, instructional days have decreased, and teachers have been furloughed because of the reduced state financial allocations. The approval of this amendment would further increase the financial hardship felt by our school system and, at the same time, increase the local financial burden.

We firmly support our local school system and do not oppose the creation of charter schools. However, we feel those decisions should be made on the local level, by our elected representatives, and not an appointed panel in Atlanta.

The Chamber of Commerce’s mission statement is “To strengthen business, foster economic growth, and improve the quality of life for all.”

We firmly believe that a strong, vibrant local education system is vital to each of these points. For that reason, we urge you to vote “No” on Amendment 1 on Nov. 6.

Sincerely,

Charles Tyson, Chairman

On behalf of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

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