Georgia voters say yes to charter schools

Constitution amended to reestablish Charter School Commission



FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — With over 60 percent of state voters saying yes to Amendment 1, the state can move forward with the Charter School Commission.

Appointed by the state Board of Education, it will consist of seven members recommended by the governor, president of the Senate and the speaker of the House, and decided upon by the state Board of Education during their February meeting.

Three members will serve one-year terms while the other four will serve two.

It’s possible the recommendations will be members of the previous Charter School Commission, disbanded in 2011, but no recommendations have been made public.

Once appointed, the commission can approve new charter school applications, and those previously denied by local school boards.

Forsyth County Tea Party Chairman Hal Schneider supported the amendment.

“It’s important to give parents a choice. This amendment allows parents more control over their children’s education,” he said.

Other Forsyth County residents said they believed the amendment was a good thing. “Charter schools provide alternative learning opportunities, and it’s important to have options for children who can benefit from a different style of learning,” Haidee Bell said.

Forsyth County Board of Education member Ann Crow opposed the amendment.

“This allows a group of individuals, with no community investment, the ability to make decisions about our children,” she said.

Crow said public schools are already struggling financially.

“Funding is limited, and this amendment will limit it even further,” she said.

Former Charter School Association President Mark Peevy believes local school boards are concerned about losing control.

“We need to focus on what’s best for our children, not on who gets to make the decisions,” he said.

He also believes funding is an issue for local school boards.

“When a child leaves a school, the funds provided by the state go with them, whether they go to another public or a charter school,” he said.

About 40 percent of the state voted against the amendment.

“I voted against it,” Forsyth County resident Dan Volk said. “The public school system is already short on cash, and the addition of more charter schools could negatively impact the education of kids in them.”

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