In a surprising move, catching Republican Party leaders off guard, State School Superintendent John Barge announced his opposition to the upcoming vote on the charter school amendment that essentially creates a body similar to the now defunct Georgia Charter Schools Commission (Commission), which would have the authority to approve charter schools that have been denied by their local board. The Commission was ruled Unconstitutional in a 2011 ruling by the Ga. Supreme Court, which prompted leaders in the General Assembly to pass H.R. 1162, the upcoming Constitutional amendment.
The General Assembly currently has the authority to create state special schools in areas that may require them, such asGeorgiaSchoolfor the Deaf and Blind. This amendment clarifies that these special schools can include state charter schools. Under the amendment, “state charter school” is defined, as “a public school that operates under the terms of a charter between the State Board of Education and a charter petitioner,” which cannot include private, sectarian, religious, for profit, or private schools. A local board of education can still establish local charter schools, which are distinct from state charter schools.
Recently, the Department of Education put their approval on analysis conducted by Georgia School Superintendent’s Herb Garrett, which essentially says the state will send two and a half times the money to charter schools, due to a little known amendment that was added to HB 797 that allows the funding change to occur whether the amendment passes in November. The Governor’s Office asserted Garrett’s numbers were factually incorrect and released their own report that showed charter schools received between 62% and 82% of the average per student expenditure for traditional public school students. Dr. Barge noted that due to traditional public schools being underfunded reduced teacher staffs and furloughs, his posture was to oppose the re-creation of the Commission.
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Look for more articles that will provide in-depth analysis and a background on charter schools in future Priority stories.