Locals voice concern over charter school amendment - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Locals voice concern over charter school amendment

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When voters head to the polls in November they will decide if they will amend the Georgia Constitution to allow the creation of a new state charter school system.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State's office, this is what you'll see on the ballot: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?

That amendment has received a lot of attention in our area from people like Tripp Nanney who is the parent of two students in Columbia County.

"It's a catastrophic move for the state of Georgia," said Nanney.  

He explained why he's opposed to the amendment, "It will hurt the public school system greatly. It's going to take money away from the public school system and divert it to another area that I don't think is exactly fair."

He isn't the only one with serious concerns; Chairman of the Columbia County Board of Education, Regina Buccafusco has been doing her research.

"I wake up every morning and start reading everything that's out there. I've been doing this for several months now," said Buccafusco.

She said the amendment is unnecessary, "It will create a new governing body for charter schools. Emotionally they say it gives parents a choice; parents already have that choice."

There are already charter schools in Richmond County; this amendment would create a new state Charter School Commission which would authorize additional charter schools.

We reached out to local charter schools, they couldn't comment during school hours and even after hours they didn't want to talk.

According to the state superintendent's office okaying schools through the proposed commission will cost the state about $430 million over the next 5 years.

"What that will result in is raising more taxes locally because we still have to fund our schools," said Buccafusco.

We asked the state where the money will come from; they said they wouldn't use local funds and the schools will be paid for by the state.

Even so, Nanney is saying, "My vote is going to be no."

He said he's saying no because of concerns of higher taxes and a governing body that isn't local.

"My message is to vote 'No' for the amendment," said Buccafusco.

Right now there are over 200 charter schools in Georgia.

You will have the opportunity to vote on the amendment for the new charter school system during the November 6 elections.

Brian Robinson, deputy chief of staff for Governor Deal told Fox54 in a statement, "The charter school amendment expands school choice for Georgia families, which is particularly important for parents whose children are trapped in under performing or failing schools. There will be a high bar for creating new state chartered schools. The new schools would be fully funded by the state – no funds will be diverted from the local school system. This system will expand choice, maintain local control and provide accountability. Schools that don't meet expectations will close. Gov. Deal believes that parental choice is the ultimate local control."

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