Georgia voters approve charter schools amendment - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Georgia voters approve charter schools amendment

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -

Georgia voters have approved a constitutional amendment that gives the state more authority to create charter schools. The measure passed by a 58-to-42 percent margin on Election Night.

The amendment had been the subject of a hard-fought battle.

Voters' approval of the charter school amendment will bring the return of a state commission, which had been shut down by a Georgia Supreme Court ruling. The commission could approve new charter schools over the objection of local school districts.

Supporters say approval of new schools will require an extensive process.

"Opening a charter school is a difficult task and takes a lot  work, so there won't be a slew or a raft of  charter school petitions that get approved immediately," said Mark Peevy.

Peevy was the executive director of the previous commission, which approved 16 charter schools over a three-year period.  

"I expect what will happen is some of those doors will open up for charter school petitioners that may not have found a receptive audience at the local boards, but it's still a year to two year process to get those things approved and up and running," Peevy said.

Supporters also that the result would be more opportunities for children, especially those trapped in failing public schools.

"We absolutely know the parents have driven this and this is more than just about charter schools. Parents are sending a message to local school districts that they expect better for their children," said Tony Roberts of the Georgia Charter Schools Association.

Opponents argue the proposal would deplete resources for remaining public schools.

"We've got teachers who have been furloughed. We've got classroom sizes bulging. We have two-thirds of our school districts in the state that can't run a full school year. They can't afford a 180 day school year," said state Sen. Nan Orrock, (D-36th District).

Orrock went on to say that big money interests have attempted to intrude on local school control.

Nina Gilbert, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academies, called for charters and traditional public schools to try to reconcile after the tough fight "and work on behalf of all of Georgia's children, whether they're in charter schools or they're in traditional schools, to make sure we close the achievement gap for all students, regardless of where they attend school."

The new charter school's commission is expected to start getting down to business early next year.

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