Georgia voters pass charter school amendment

Voters around Georgia decided that they want the state government to have a hand in setting up local charter schools.

Amendment 1, which asked voters whether they wanted to allow the state the authority to establish special state charter schools, passed with a statewide voted of 58 percent to 42 percent.

In DeKalb, voters favored the amendment, 64 percent to 36 percent.

Rep. Scott Holcomb, who supported the amendment in the General Assembly, said he will be monitoring the implementation of the amendment.

“I have concerns about how it will be executed,” Holcomb said. “I particularly want to make sure the funding for public schools is not diminished, which is what the law requires.”

Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, who was outspoken against the amendment, said, “It’s not about charter schools; I wish it were.”

Kendrick said most people who opposed the amendment were not against the idea of charter schools. She said she expects the issue to come up again during the next General Assembly session.

“I’m sure there’s going to be lots of bills that are going to be close to privatizing education,” she said.

Voters faced the charter school control issue in 2008 when the Georgia Charter Schools Commission (GCSC) was created to allow the state to establish charter schools that had been denied charters by local school boards.

In 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that HB881, which created the commission, took away local control and was unconstitutional.

Proponents of Amendment 1 said the issue was about allowing all parents the choice to send their children to a school where they can excel, regardless of financial standing or locations. Many opponents of the amendment said the state simply cannot afford to fund the schools that might be created if the GCSC is re-established.

Also on the Nov. 6 ballot was Amendment 2, which involves whether to allow state entities such as the State Properties Commission, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Labor, to enter into multiyear lease agreements in an effort to cut down on operating costs.

That amendment passed 63 percent to 37 percent.

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