Gov. Nathan Deal signed the “opportunity school district” bill on April 21 that will see a referendum on the November 2016 ballot that would allow the state to take over failing schools.
The constitutional amendment calls for the state to take over schools that score below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) for three consecutive years.
The program, which would mean the creation of a new statewide school board and superintendent position, would only take over 20 schools per year with a cap of 100 schools. There are currently 139 schools that have received failing grades on the CCRIP for the past three years.
Dist. 59 Rep. Margaret Kaiser (D), who recently announced her intentions to run for mayor of Atlanta in 2017, told the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods at its April 16 meeting that she voted against the opportunity school district bill.
“It’s another layer of government,” Kaiser said. “We’re not even sure how much it’s going to cost.”
Dist. 54 Rep. Beth Beskin (R) said she voted in favor of the bill. “What we’ve been doing hasn’t worked, so let’s find another model,” she said.
Both Beskin and Kaiser brought up the fact that 27 of Atlanta Public Schools are currently on the failing list. They agreed that Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, on the job for less than a year, is working hard to turn those schools around.
“Dr. Carstarphen is dynamic,” Beskin said. “There is still two years to get those failing schools off the list.”
DeKalb County Schools are also facing a possible takeover with 26 of its schools on the failing list.