Georgia voters OK charter schools amendment -, GA News Weather & Sports

Georgia voters OK charter schools amendment

Students and parents dance at Ivy Prep Academy in Kirkwood Students and parents dance at Ivy Prep Academy in Kirkwood

Georgians have approved a constitutional amendment that would allow a new state board to issue charters for private operators to run independent public schools.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, 58 percent supported the proposal. Forty-two percent opposed it.

Gov. Nathan Deal and school choice advocates pitched the amendment as a way to give Georgia families more educational options.

"I'm just very pleased for the parents of the existing charter schools," said Tony Roberts, President and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. "Now there's hope in other communities where there are charter schools needed and where parents want them, there can be charter schools."

Control over charters now rests mostly with local school boards, though operators who are denied can appeal to the state Board of Education.

State Superintendent John Barge led educator groups in opposition, saying it would lessen local control and siphon public money away from existing schools.

"Public schools are going to still exist, and this is just going to degrade them even further because the local control is what's important here. The local control is how the charter schools ultimately succeed when they work with the local school district," said Lauren Clayton, a mom who voted against the amendment.

Georgia has about 200 charter schools already. They will not be immediately affected by the outcome.

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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