Local school districts fight Ga. amendment for charter schools

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Local school leaders are speaking out Tuesday against a new amendment about charter schools making its way through the Georgia House.

If it passes, it could take away the power of local schools to approve certain charter schools.

There have been two votes so far and lawmakers are close to passing the new resolution, but some local school leaders are hoping the third time is not the charm for tomorrow's vote.

Support is mixed throughout the state for a proposed amendment to Georgia's constitution on how charter schools are approved.

"I need more information on the pros and cons of both," explained Richmond County parent Jessica Fuselier.

Right now, local school boards have to sign off on a new charter school, but soon the state could have that final say.

"The state would come in and make these decisions without the support of the local -- that makes me fear, are we bullying, as a state, the local?" Fuselier asked.

Richmond County's PTA president held a news conference voicing concerns on Tuesday.

"Teamwork makes the dream work and that's where we need to be, we need to be a team with our local board. We need stand behind them, we need to vote no," announced President Monique Braswell.

Leaders also say the move will affect education in the classroom. It's also about money.

"We already know our budgets have a huge restraint right now. Can we afford that? Is this what we're paying taxes for?" Braswell asked. "Proponents claim local dollars won't be used, but they refuse to state how these schools will be funded."

Opponents say it's nothing against school choice, but more about keeping the control at the local level.

"We do support charter schools, but we only support the charter schools who are accepted and approved by our local board of education," Braswell said.

Some parents though say it's too soon for them to cast their votes.

"It's still fairly new and there's a lot more educating to be done," Fuselier said.

If the amendment passes in the House and the Senate, voters could expect to see the amendment on a ballot this November.

Columbia County schools are also speaking out. They're expected to pass a resolution on Tuesday calling the move "unconstitutional."

So far, all of the local House members have voted against the amendment, except for Reps. Barbara Sims and Lee Anderson.

Columbia County Superintendent Charles Nagle says he's very "disappointed" in their votes. He says a vote supporting this change is a vote against Columbia County Schools.

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