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Charter school amendment will be up for debate

Posted: October 27, 2012 - 11:03pm

A debate Monday in Evans will focus on proposed legislation that would change how charter schools are established in Georgia.

The hour-long debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center inside the Columbia County Library. The free debate is being organized by Georgians for Educational Excellence and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

Columbia County School Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco will head up a two-person team to speak in opposition to the constitutional amendment, created by House Resolution 1162, that would allow a seven-person state committee to decide on new charter schools without the authorization of local school boards.

Speaking in favor of the resolution will be local attorney Glee Smith, former educational adviser for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, as well as Monica Henson, the executive director of Provost Academy Georgia and Magic Johnson Bridgescape Learning Centers.

“I just think it’s a real good idea, and I think we’ve got some real quality people participating in this thing,” said Craig Spinks, the founder and CEO of Georgians for Educational Excellence.

Georgia voters will decide on the amendment Nov. 6.

If approved, the resolution would override a Georgia Supreme Court ruling last year that charter schools be accepted and governed only by a local school board.

Currently, if a local school board rejects the creation of a charter school, the decision can be appealed to the state board of education.

Spinks said misinformation has been circulating about HR 1162.

He said copies of the proposed amendment will be passed out to audience members during the debate.

“People need to know what it’s about,” Spinks said. “We need to just have some people presenting facts there.”

Advocates of the resolution say parents would be given more choice in their children’s education.

Opponents argue that the amendment would lead to more budget cuts, larger classes, shortened school years and teacher furloughs.

While no charter schools exist in Columbia County, there are more than 200 charter schools and systems in Georgia.

More information about the debate can be found at the Georgians for Educational Excellence Facebook page.

IF YOU GO

What: Debate on proposed state charter school amendment

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center inside the Columbia County Library

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