Board Approves Resolution in Support of Public Education | Community Spirit
HOUSTON COUNTY, GA – During the Oct. 16, 2012, Board meeting, Houston County Board of Education Board members approved a resolution in support of quality public education. The resolution is in response to a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 6, 2012, general election ballot as a result of House Resolution 1162. If Amendment 1 is approved, it would authorize the legislature and governor to establish a state committee with the power to approve applications for charter schools that have been rejected by local school boards, deteriorating local control. It would also result in less money for traditional public schools and therefore larger classes, less instructional days for students and less pay for teachers.
Chairman Tom Walmer read the full resolution aloud. Board members approved it unanimously with a 7-0 vote. The Board also authorized Superintendent Dr. Robin Hines to transmit an official copy of this resolution to Gov. Nathan Deal, State Representatives and Senators, the State Board of Education and the Georgia Department of Education. Gov. Deal and legislators are asked to commit their support to adequately fund a first-class K-12 public education for students in Houston County and across the State of Georgia, to affirm that public education lifts people from poverty, equalizes opportunities, reduces crime and violence, builds bright futures, and makes democracy real and sure.
In 2012, Georgia legislators passed House Bill (HB) 797 which approves sending 2.3 times more state dollars per child to “state special charter schools” than to traditional schools. HB 797 is silent on where state funds will come from without diverting additional state dollars from local charter schools and traditional public schools already withering from state budget cuts.
Georgia’s public schools are already hurting. The state’s economic condition has resulted in a significant decline in an already underfunded public education system, resulting in overcrowded classrooms, shortened school calendars, insufficient textbooks and other curricular supplies and employee furloughs. There are 4,280 less teachers today than in 2008, yet 37,438 more students. And out of 180 school systems, only 59 have a full 2012-2013 school calendar this year due to budget.
If Amendment 1 is approved, the state will divert an estimated additional $430 million over the next five years from traditional public schools to the new “state charter schools.” That’s on top of the $5.7 billion districts have suffered in austerity cuts since fiscal year 2003. Houston County alone has been cut $188 million since FY03 in form of austerity reductions and other cuts.
Georgia law already allows for state or local approval of charter schools and provides a method for a state appeal if a local board rejects a charter school application. Since 2001, the Georgia Department of Education has reviewed at least 52 state charter school applications and approved 19. There are currently 110 local and state charter schools.
Early voting is underway. The Amendment 1 ballot question is: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”