Columbia County School Superintendent Charles Nagle is adamant that local officials should retain authority to authorize charter schools.
Nagle spoke out an Evans forum Monday against a proposed Georgia constitutional amendment that would allow a seven-person state committee to create charter schools without the authorization of local school boards.
Georgia voters will decide Nov. 6 on the amendment, proposed under House Resolution 1162.
If approved, the amendment would override a Georgia Supreme Court ruling last year that local elected school boards have sole authority to create or reject charter schools.
“Seven appointees by three politicians that you don’t even know are going to make the decision across the state for charter schools,” Nagle said. “It’s shameful.”
Currently if a local school board rejects the creation of a charter school, the decision can be appealed to the state board of education.
Though no charter schools exist in Columbia County, there are more than 200 such institutions in Georgia.
Advocates of the resolution say parents would be given more choice in their child’s education.
Opponents, like Nagle, argue that the amendment would lead to more public school budget cuts, larger classes, shortened school years and teacher furloughs.
Nagle said the resolution would shift authority from local school boards to the state government, creating a dual education system that would drain funds going to traditional public schools.
“You can’t tell me that someone should not be ashamed of themselves to sit in Atlanta, Ga., in the legislature ... and let school systems go broke and have education for 140 days in a school year,” he said, “and they’re going to spend the entire 40 days of their legislation time worrying about charter schools.”
Nagle said he also worried that for-profit companies would see charter schools as an investment opportunity, hurting county public schools by taking away funding.
Nagle was joined by school board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco in speaking out against the resolution.
“I will answer emails (and phone calls) morning, noon, night, and all of our school board members will do that,” she said. “Do you think you’ll ever get a phone call back from them (state committee members)?”