November voters will have the choice on proposed schools amendment

Published 6:13 pm Friday, September 2, 2016

On the November ballot, Georgia voters will have the chance to vote on an amendment that would allow the State of Georgia to take over schools that are failing “through any governance model allowed by law.”

A “yes” vote in November would allow the state to assume control of failing schools. A “no” vote would keep the state from having that power.

If the amendment passes it will trigger the implementation of Senate Bill 133, which outlines the three different governance models that the state could use once they assume control of the school.

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In order to qualify as a “failing” school, the school would have to receive an F grade under the current state grading system for at least three consecutive years.

The first option would be for the state to assume total control over a school. The school would then be led by the newly created Opportunity School District, a government entity led by a governor appointed superintendent that would answer directly to the governor.

The OSD would be allowed to take control of up to 20 schools per year that are deemed to be “failing” and up to a maximum total of 100 schools.

The second option would be for the OSD to share control of a school with the local school board. In this model the OSD would have control to make changes to how the school is run.

The third model would be for the OSD to restructure the failing school as a charter school.

The official preamble introducing the amendment on the ballot reads that it, “Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.”

The Georgia PTA has come out strongly against the proposed language, calling it “misleading”.

“This deceptive language must not be allowed on the November ballot,” Lisa-Marie Haygood, president of the Georgia PTA said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If the Governor and state legislators believe the best way to fix struggling schools is to put them under state control and either close them or turn them over to charter schools, then let the language on the ballot reflect this initiative. As it stands, the preamble, and indeed, the entire amendment question, is intentionally misleading and disguises the true intentions of the OSD legislation.”

Multiple school districts across the state have come out against the proposed bill. The Decatur County Board of Education has not taken an official stance.


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