The resolution, taking a “firm stand” against the amendment, will be adopted at Tuesday’s regular board meeting. Superintendent Dr. Kent Edwards discussed the resolution with the board in Thursday’s work session.
The amendment, to be voted on in the Nov. 6 general election, will allow the state to establish a separate panel of political appointees to issue charters to private operators.
As of now, state law gives local, elected school boards the power to grant or deny applications for independent charter schools. A potential operator that is denied can appeal to the Georgia Board of Education, a body of gubernatorial appointees.
If the referendum passes, prospective statewide charter operators would apply directly to the new panel. Local operators would still start with their local school board, but then effectively have two appeal paths — to the state board and the new panel.
“We want to use this resolution as a way to get clear information out there to inform voters so they can represent their own views when they go to the ballot box,” Edwards said.
The superintendent went on to respond to critics who say he is opposing the amendment only to protect his job.
“People accuse me or allege that I’m just saying I’m against this to protect my job and my own,” Edwards said. “But I’m doing it because I’m professionally required to take care of and protect Carrollton’s own.”
How the amendment would affect the quality of life and education in Carrollton and Carroll County was discussed at length, with Edwards saying the effect would be detrimental.
“Our quality of life in Carrollton is in dire jeopardy if this goes through,” the superintendent said. “Maybe not the day after it goes through, but five or 10 years later.”
Edward said the amendment would be “tough to turn around” if the state decides in five or 10 years that it was a “bad idea.”
“They say they’re held to a higher standard, but I beg to differ,” he said. “State data — not my data, state data — shows that charter schools don’t outperform local public schools.”
Board Chairman Dr. James Pope said the amendment is worded “so that it’s confusing.”
The actual question that voters will read and answer on Nov. 6 is, “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”
“No one’s against charter schools,” Pope said. “We already have them and an existing process to get them. It’s just the way this new state commission would be set up that bothers me.”
Pope said he was concerned about where the money was coming from to support the amendment.
“Ninety-six percent of money to fund this amendment comes from out of state,” Pope said. “So they have no local interest.”
Families for Better Public Schools, a committee that supports the amendment, had raised more than $500,000 as of Sept. 28.
That figure includes $250,000 from Alice Walton of the Wal-Mart ownership family and $100,000 from K-12 Inc., a for-profit charter operator. Wal-Mart is based in Arkansas, and K-12 Inc. is based in Virginia.
Edwards warned that arguments both for and against the amendment can get “emotionally charged.”
“It’s difficult to define the central issue at play here,” he said. “It can get mired in what a charter school is or what funds get used, and then it gets into semantics and rhetoric.”
The board of education will meet next Tuesday at 6 p.m. to formally adopt the resolution.