Debate Over Charter Schools Amendment Continues

The debate over the charter schools amendment that will be on the ballot this November in Georgia continues.

Tuesday, the Stephens County School System held a forum at the Tugaloo Center for the Performing Arts at Stephens County High School on the amendment.

Prior to the public forum, a similar presentation was held for teachers.

The forum speaker was Georgia School Superintendent Association Executive Director Herb Garrett.

The amendment would change the state constitution to allow for the state to re-create a commission that could approve the creation of local charter schools that were rejected by a local Board of Education, with those charter schools then receiving state funding. That commission was in place, but ruled unconstitutional last year by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Supporters of the amendment said that some local school boards have rejected charter school applications because they did not like the competition and add that this amendment would truly give local parents control.

However, Garrett said that a mechanism already exists to appeal a local Board of Education’s denial of a charter schools amendment.

“The State Board of Education can already approve (a charter school) over the objection of local Boards of Education,” said Garrett.

Garrett also said he has concerns about how the state plans to fund charter schools approved by this commission if the amendment passes.

“The funding mechanism that is in the law already provides more than twice as much money per child for children to go to those schools as you get to educate kids at Stephens County,” said Garrett.

However, in a statement posted on the Georgia Charter Schools Association website, Georgia Charter Schools Association President Tony Roberts pointed out that charter schools do not receive local funding and those additional dollars are designed to help make up some of that difference, adding that charter schools overall receive less money per student than traditional schools.

AM 630 WNEG attempted to contact the Georgia Charter Schools Association for comments on the amendment, but were unable to do so.