AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- You’ll see this question on Georgia ballots in November: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow states to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”
It sounds pretty good, but there’s a lot that goes into this proposed Amendment 1– 13 pages, in fact. NewsChannel 6 has been digging into it so you don’t have to.
The fate of 100 failing Georgia schools will rest in one person’s hands if Amendment One passes in November: a superintendent of a new Opportunity School District.
“It would empower one person that’s appointed by the governor but confirmed by the Senate to look at 127 schools and choose 20 of those schools to unilaterally make those decisions,” said local attorney and state senator Harold Jones.
Gov. Deal hasn’t decided who would fill that role.
“I don’t have any idea,” he said. “We just got to make sure we pass it first.”
Gov. Deal would have to present an appointee to be confirmed sometime between January and April, when the state Senate meets next year.
“This is one that we would actually debate and talk about,” Jones said. “This would not be a perfunctory [confirmation].”
Then that person has a limited time to choose up to 20 schools to take over for that year. By the bill, they must attend public hearings on the schools and assess what is already being done to help those schools.
“If this person dosen’t take office let’s say until April, he would only have 127 days before school starts,” Jones said. “Even if they only took office in let’s say February, he only has approximately 210 days where there’s 127 schools.”
The Richmond County PTA president says schools problems are way too complex to assess so quickly.
“I don’t think that’s possible,” said Charlotte Burton-WIlliams. “There’s no way. When you have a Superintendent that’s already assigned to a particular area, they’re better suited for that job.
The OSD superintendent would need help in such a large undertaking, and the money to pay them would come from local school budgets.
“There’s a three percent hidden cost in the bill to go towards administrative costs for the OSD Superintendent, which means we’re talking about more government employees, more staff.”
The Superintendent would also be able to ask the General Assembly for more money for innovative purposes for the OSD. That money would come from the state’s education budget, but alot of it could end up in Metro Atlanta, since that’s where nearly half of the failing schools are located.