ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A proposed state constitutional amendment that will be on the 2016 presidential ballot will give the state authority to take over a failing school.
And not just take over the operation of the school. Actually take over the building, and even move local taxpayer dollars to the state to help fund what will essentially be a new school system.
This new school system is called an "Opportunity School District" or OSD. Supporters of the OSD referendum believe it will ultimately improve Georgia's lowest performing schools.
But educators across the state are suspicious, and at a meeting of Dougherty County principals today, those leaders who heard about it for the first time were concerned.
Dougherty County principals gathered together at Wednesday's school board meeting, an unusual move to show their united effort improving student achievement in their schools. Vinson Davis, Principal Monroe High School says, "We wanted to show each other, the board and really the community the sense of urgency around increasing student achievement."
But, principals got more than they bargained for today when a lobbying group from Atlanta, joined by a Vidalia School Board Member, talked to the board about a proposed state constitutional amendment.
Angela Palm, Director of Policy and Legislative Services for the Georgia School Boards Association says 30:28 "This bill would take over not just the school, the building, all the property of the building and the attendance zone of the building and if it becomes a charter school they maintain the right to use that school forever."
Bruce Bowles, Radium Springs Elementary School Principal "I hope the public finds out more about what the bill means and how it will impact the community."
As of today, six Dougherty County Schools would be eligible to be to be in this new Opportunity School District, including Monroe High School, Southside Middle, and Northside Elementary because
Superintendent Butch Mosley says he is confident, because of the great strides these schools are making, by the time a referendum is passed, 5 out of the 6 schools will be off the "list", but he thinks the proposed amendment is off base. "Everyone is not as committed statewide as they should be and maybe leadership is weak, boards are weak, community is poor and the resources aren't there and they could use some state help but not state take over."
Robert Youngblood, District 1 School Board Member says "We have a habit in this state to jump on the educational platform, the newest train that goes by, and not doing the research needed to support it."
Under this proposed referendum, if the state takes over a school and makes it a charter school they can take the local taxpayer money and funnel to the state, away from the local school system.
The referendum won't be voted on until November 2016.
The Dougherty County School Board is being recognized statewide for the way they work together. Board members learned today they have achieved the designation "Quality Board" stamp of approval given to only a few school boards around the state by the Georgia School Board Association.
This recognition is saved for boards that show they are a strong team, that is using their strategic plan to move their district forward. The School Board will receive the award at a statewide meeting in Atlanta December 4th.