Columbia County school officials plan to address a controversial state constitutional amendment on charter schools during a Monday forum.
The amendment, House Resolution 1162, would allow the Georgia Legislature to set up a committee that could create charter schools without authorization of local school boards.
Both school Superintendent Charles Nagle and board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco will speak at the forum, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at The Sanctuary next to Evans High School.
“I just thought it was good for people to know, just to be informed,” said Kim Combs, co-president of Lewiston Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization. “They can make their own decision about how to vote, but they need to be informed, because it is very misleading.”
Combs helped spread the word about the forum among other school PTO presidents.
“We just thought it would be easier to do one countywide,” she said.
If approved by voters on Nov. 6, HR 1162 would override the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision last year that charter schools be accepted and governed by a local school board.
Those in favor of the resolution say parents would be given more choice in their child’s education.
Opponents are adamant that it would cause more budget cuts to public schools, larger classes, shortened school years and teacher furloughs.
“They say it gives parents choice, but we currently have 212 charter schools in the state of Georgia,” Buccafusco said. “Parents have choice there already.”
Buccafusco is against the amendment because she believes another system for approving charter schools in Georgia is unnecessary.
If a local school board rejects the creation of a charter school under the current law, the decision can be appealed at the state level.
“This would set up another powerless school system and more bureaucracy up in Atlanta,” Buccafusco said. “It obviously takes away some of the money, but I think what they’re selling people is a bill of goods that they really can’t come up and produce on.”
Another problem with the proposed resolution, Buccafusco said, is that charter schools would lack accountability and wouldn’t have to answer to the local school system.
“If a parent gets upset about something, they can call me, they can call any of the board members,” she said. “Have them try calling one of the six people in Atlanta.”
An hour-long debate focused on the charter school amendment will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center inside the Columbia County Library. Admission is free.