Georgia Charter Schools Association
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Where Do the State Superintendent Candidates Stand on Charters?

The Georgia Charter Schools Association contacted all 15 candidates for State Schools Superintendent asking each one to complete a questionnaire specific to chartering in Georgia. 

Of the 15 candidates on the ballot for the May 20th primaries, 9 candidates completed the survey, 1 candidate turned in an incomplete survey and 5 candidates declined to participate.

Georgia Charter Schools Association would like to thank the nine candidates who took the time to allow communities across Georgia interested in public charter schools to learn more about their policies and views regarding charter schools in Georgia. 

Additionally, do not forget that early voting has begun in Georgia. You can find early voting locations here: http://mvp.sos.state.ga.us

COMPLETED SURVEY
MARY KAY BACALLAO (R)
ASHLEY D. BELL (R)
SHARYL H. DAWES (R)
ALLEN BOWLES FORT (R)
NANCY T. JESTER (R)
FITZ JOHNSON (R)
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN (D)
KIRA G WILLIS (R)
RICHARD L WOODS (R)

INCOMPLETE SURVEY
MICHAEL L. “MIKE” BUCK (R)
 
DECLINED TO PARTICIPATE
TARNISHA L. DENT (D)
MARION “DENISE” FREEMAN (D)
JURITA FOREHAND MAYS (D)
R. “RITA” ROBINZINE (D)
VALARIE D. WILSON (D)

The 15-question survey was broken down into five topics:

  1. Flexibility, Autonomy, & Accountability
  2. Charter School Facilities
  3. Charter School Funding
  4. Innovation
  5. State Charter Schools Commission

All 15 questions are “yes and no” questions, allowing for additional commentary if the candidate felt was necessary. 

TOPIC 1:        Flexibility, Autonomy, & Accountability
Independent start-up charter schools are, by law, to be provided broad flexibility by being able to waive Title 20 of Georgia education law and autonomy through self-governance in exchange for the highest accountability possible.
 

  1. Some school districts oppose their charter schools having “broad flexibility” as the law allows asking for specific waiver requests under Title 20 instead. Do you believe all charter schools should be entitled to the broad flexibility that the law allows?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO X    
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
MICHAEL L “MIKE” BUCK    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON X    
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS X    

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. Some school districts require a certain percentage of parents and/or teachers to participate on the governing boards of independent charter schools. This policy prevents other professionals with different skill sets from board participation. Do you believe board governance service is best left to the charter school to determine?

 

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO    
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
MICHAEL L “MIKE” BUCK    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON X    
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS X    

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. Would you, as state schools superintendent, be willing to step in and recommend sanctions on district or state authorizers not complying with Georgia’s charter schools law?

 

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO X    
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
MICHAEL L “MIKE” BUCK 
(last answered question)
X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON X    
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS X    

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION

 
TOPIC 2:        Charter School Facilities
Independent charter schools are the only public schools in the state of Georgia forced to spend operating revenue on facilities. On average, public charter schools in Georgia spend $631 per student from designated per-pupil operating revenue on facilities costs. For the average size public charter school in Georgia, with enrollment of 373 students, this equates to $235,363/year.
 
Additionally, the state’s annual capital outlay expenditures and inclusion in a local district’s e-SPLOST have been unproductive to nonexistent. Locally approved independent charter schools, by law, are not eligible to receive capital outlay expenditures from the state. To date, only two school districts in the state of Georgia have included one of their locally approved charter schools in an E-SPLOST referendum.
 
In 2009, the Georgia General Assembly passed HB 555, requiring local districts allow their own locally approved charter schools to use “unused district facilities” at no cost to the charter other than upkeep and any needed renovations to the facility. State approved charter schools are not eligible to benefit from HB 555.
 

  1. Do you believe Georgia law should be changed to allow locally approved independent charter schools to receive any funds from the state’s annual capital outlay expenditures?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO X    
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON X    
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS    

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. Georgia law says local districts “may” include their independent charter schools in an E-SPLOST referendum. Should the law be changed to say local districts “shall” include their independent charter schools in an E-SPLOST referendum?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO    X  
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES    X  
ALLEN BOWLES FORT    X  
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON    X  
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS    

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. Should Georgia law be update the term “unused” and to define the term “underutilized” to allow locally approved charter schools to have access not only to unused district facilities, but to have the opportunity to share a school facility which is 60% or more empty for student use?

 

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO X    
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT    X  
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON X    
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS    

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION 
 

  1. Should Georgia law allow State approved charter schools access to “unused” district facilities?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO   X  
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON X    
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS   X  

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION

 
TOPIC 3:        Charter School Funding
Charter school funding in Georgia varies from authorizer to authorizer due to different local or state funding levels.
 
Locally approved charter school students are suppose to receive 97% (authorizers are allowed to keep up to 3% for central administration costs) of the funding they would have received if attending a traditional public school.
 
Additionally, by law, state approved charter schools are funded at about $6,200 per child. This number is the average of the lowest 5% funded school districts in the state. State approved virtual charter schools are funded at an even lesser amount, approximately $4,800 per child.
 

  1. Should locally approved charter school students be funded a dollar for dollar equivalent to other children within the same district?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO X    
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON    X  
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS   X  

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. Should Georgia law be updated to place state approved charter school funding on a state average of about $8,300 per child?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO   X  
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON    X  
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS    X  
RICHARD L WOODS   X  

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. Should state approved virtual charter schools in Georgia receive a funding amount equal to the national average for students attending a public virtual schools, approximately $5,700 per child?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO   X  
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT   X  
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON    X  
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS   X  

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. If yes to questions 9 and 10, will you make more equitable funding for state charters a part of your education improvement plan?
  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO      X
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT      X
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON      X
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS    
RICHARD L WOODS     X

TOPIC 4:        Innovation
Charter schools allow for innovative education practices within public K-12 education. These innovative practices are supposed to drive stronger results in student achievement.
 
In recent months, the Druid Hills community’s “charter cluster” petition, with a clear mandate from parents and staff based on the vote, allowing for all the traditional public schools within the Druid Hills High School cluster to convert to charter status under the governance of one 501(c)3 nonprofit board, was denied by DeKalb County School System.

  1. Should conversion charters and charter clusters be allowed some type of an appeals process with the State when denied by their local district?

 

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO   X  
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON    X  
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN     Answered “YES & NO”, answer thrown out 
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS   X  

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. Do you support authorizers, local districts and the State Charter Schools Commission being allowed to establish their own policies for a streamlined process for renewal, replication, or expansion purposes of high quality charter schools?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO X    
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT   X  
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON X    
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS X    

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION

 
TOPIC 5:        State Charter Schools Commission
In 2012, voters in the State of Georgia passed Amendment 1, the Charter Schools Amendment, allowing for a statewide alternative authorizer of charter schools. This 7-member board is a single purpose alternative authorizer of charter schools charged with promoting quality authorization practices.
 

  1. Did you vote in favor of Amendment 1?

  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO   X  
ASHLEY D. BELL  X    
SHARYL H. DAWES X    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT X    
NANCY T. JESTER X    
FITZ JOHNSON X    
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN X    
KIRA G WILLIS X    
RICHARD L WOODS   X  

CLICK HERE TO SEE CANDIDATES’ COMMENTS ON THIS QUESTION
 

  1. If you voted “no” on Amendment 1, would you still vote “no” today?
  YES NO NO ANSWER
MARY KAY BACALLAO X    
ASHLEY D. BELL     X
SHARYL H. DAWES    
ALLEN BOWLES FORT     X
NANCY T. JESTER      X
FITZ JOHNSON     X
ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN     X
KIRA G WILLIS    
RICHARD L WOODS X    


Question 1 Comments:
FORT:  Any school should have some accountability measures in place. If taxpayer money is used, then what the money is used for, how it is spent and what for should be as much of a concern as regular public schools have. Offering different classes, different graduation requirements, etc may be well and fine, but to not have any accountability under “broad flexibility” umbrella is not ensuring the student a proper education nor the proper use of taxpayer money.
 
JESTER:  Any attempt to limit the broad flexibility that is allowed under the law, is a potential attempt to undermine the charter school’s success. Charters should be afforded all legal flexibility and held accountable for their results.
 
JOHNSON:  It is the proper role of the State to make laws governing charter schools, and then allow local districts to work within that framework. Flexibility allows charter schools to maximize innovation for the benefit of students.
 
MORGAN:  There could be some exclusion that would allow apples to apples comparisons in areas such as testing and evaluations.
 
WOODS:  As long as the flexibility does not crossover the constraints and governance held within both our State and U.S. constitutions.
 
Question 2 Comments:
BACALLO:  I am not sure. I think parental involvement is very important.
 
BELL:  In my own personal experience on these boards I was happy to have a wide variety of ideas present at the table.
 
DAWES:  An independent charter school should independently determine the make up of its own board.
 
FORT:  There should be some state governance procedures for the governing board. Everyone needs to be reminded that this is a public charter school set up by taxpayers, parents, communities and businesses set up to better serve the “community” not a group of parents who may not fully understand the broad scope a school should serve over individual interests.
 
JESTER:  We must allow autonomy and hold each charter accountable for their results. That being said, the nature of chartering for me, is associated with a close connection to the needs and direction within the community the school serves. We must also guard against restrictions that would prohibit parents/teachers from serving on charter boards.
 
JOHNSON:  Parents and teachers should clearly play a role on the board, but certain charter schools may be well served by business leaders, community activists, volunteers, or non-profits. As a successful business leader, I know it takes expertise of all types to pursue excellence.
 
MORGAN:  As long as parents represent a significant portion.
 
WILLIS:  Much like school districts know what suit their community needs, specific charter schools should determine their needs and act upon them.
 
WOODS:  If a charter school was privately established and operated independently from local control and funding, the answer is absolutely. It is clear that the Georgia Constitution has given local school boards governance and establishment power locally. We must respect our constitution and representative form of government. The election process is our valid method of addressing such issues.
 
Question 3 Comments:
BACALLO:  It depends on the situation but as State School Superintendent I will take an oath to follow the laws of Georgia so that is what I will do.
 
DAWES:  Any authority that does not follow state law should be sanctioned.
 
FORT:  I am all for Charter Schools and their serving the interests of a community and its students. I am also for making sure Charter Schools do not consider themselves “independent schools,” free from some regulations they must adapt to in order to provide quality, relevant education to all children. Those who are failing in this mission should be monitored and if non-complying, sanctioned.
 
JESTER:  Absolutely. Charter schools are public schools. The State Schools Superintendent should take steps to insure that all districts and schools comply with the law. Charter schools serve children. Any attempt to thwart the laws is potentially harmful to children and taxpayers.
 
JOHNSON:  Compliance with the law is the minimum expectation. If any entity is in violation of the law, I would support efforts to bring it into compliance voluntarily. However, if this is not successful, sanctions would be appropriate as permitted by law or rule.
 
WOODS:  All district/state authorizers and Georgia charter schools must be held accountable for not complying with the law.
 
Question 4 Comments:
FORT:  But they must wait their time in line for improvements just as any other school or system does. If they meet all regulations set forth by the facilities division of the GADOE, then they should be eligible for funds when the time is appropriate, not before. Those setting up Charter Schools when getting a building should not expect a windfall of money for their building at the time of inception, when many schools and systems have waited patiently through the years for their money for building improvements; so should this school.
 
JESTER:  Charter schools are public schools. They serve our children. Excluding them from state capital funds is contrary to the best interests of children and taxpayers. This situation should be remedied.
 
JOHNSON:  Charter schools are public schools, and it is entirely appropriate they receive some form of capital outlays just as traditional public schools do. Of course, the State School Superintendent does not make law, but I would be willing to work closely with charter schools, the local districts, and the legislature to come to the table with a positive solution. I am the candidate with the extensive governmental and business experience to make this collaboration a success.
 
WILLIS:  After these schools have taken the unused and underutilized district facilities, equipment and furnishings.
 
WOODS:  Current annual outlay expenditures of our existing systems needs to be fully met by the General Assembly. A trip-hammer system of delivery could possibly be developed to open funding with improvements to school funding. However, the General Assembly’s willingness to fully fund education must be taken under consideration.
 
Question 5 Comments:
BACALLO:  I selected no because I am not in favor of an e-SPLOST for any reason. I am against any expansion of e-SPLOST. It takes time and energy away from a focus on education because it is so political. We should not need e-SPLOST money.
 
DAWES:  It should be a local decision worked out on a case-by-case basis.
 
FORT:  I believe that is a local question that should be left up to the local voters on an e-SPLOST vote.
 
JESTER:  Yes but that will probably not be enough to insure that charters get a fair chance for their projects to be contained within the e-SPLOST resolutions. Unfortunately, districts make political decisions about how to allocate e-SPLOST revenue rather than using the funds for their most urgent needs. This is true for traditional schools and charters. The State School Superintendent should work to disclose and fix these problems.
 
JOHNSON:  I believe that local school systems, as authorizers of independent charter schools, are in the best position to make that decision based on their community. While it would be ideal for the local, independent charters to be included, I am hesitant to make it a requirement. I am open to working with the Governor’s office and the Legislature on finding out if there is a legislative solution to this that would work for both local school districts and independent charters.
 
WOODS:  I firmly believe in local control. I have a constant position of opposing unfunded mandates issued by either the state or federal government. I believe this would conflict with our State’s constitutional position on local control.
 
Question 6 Comments:
DAWES:  I would like to see county systems cooperate with the charter schools in their districts. We should stop infighting and ask “What is best for the students?”
 
FORT:  It is hard for me to understand the continued use of Georgia law when we keep carping about too much or many laws already. To put two different schools under one roof, especially if one school is under a different set of rules than the other, to me, is asking for turmoil and trouble. Two Principals of two different schools in one building, think again.
 
JESTER:  Absolutely. This is in the best interests of children and taxpayers.
 
JOHNSON:  If facilities are going unused and/or underutilized and there is a sound plan to use these facilities, I think it is entirely appropriate. This could provide much-needed classroom space for charter schools without requiring massive capital outlays. School districts and charter schools would need to closely work together to ensure a “shared space” model is effective and practical.
 
WOODS:  I believe this would conflict with our State’s constitutional position on local control. This decision must ultimately meet approval of the local school board.
 
Question 7 Comments:
BACALLO:  I am for locally governed charter schools using the facilities. I don’t think locally funded buildings should be used for State approved Charter schools. Local authority needs to accompany use of locally funded facilities.
 
DAWES:  I would like to see county systems cooperate with the charter schools in their districts. We should stop infighting and ask “What is best for the students?”
 
FORT:  Only if the unused facility is released by the local system and the GADOE facility office. The building should be inspected as to the safety and renovation costs if any.
 
JESTER:  Again, absolutely. It is in the best interests of children and taxpayers.
 
JOHNSON:  If the facility is truly unused, this could be a mutually beneficial situation. Again, school districts and charter schools would need to closely work together to create positive and practical uses of facilities. As State School Superintendent, I will have high expectations for effective use of taxpayer dollars, not just at the local level but at the Department of Education as well.
 
MORGAN:  I would make it allowable but not require it.
 
WOODS:  I believe this would conflict with our State’s constitutional position on local control. I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining adherence to the constitution and our representative form of governance. Forced and unfunded mandates have been greatly tied to an expansion of local cost and debt. They restrict liberty and freedom.
 
Question 8 Comments:
FORT:  But only if the Charter School is locally funded. The rub here is who provides bus service, janitorial staff and lunchroom staff, those will be extra, because you are not shutting down another school but adding one, so funding per student is one thins, funding for the school is another.
 
JESTER:  Charter schools are public schools. Children within charter schools deserve the same resources per pupil as traditional schools.
 
JOHNSON:  While I support increased funding for locally approved charters, I am hesitant to require local districts to levy this requirement. There may be scenarios where this is possible, but in some cases, it could actually be prohibitive towards the expansion of charter schools if the district can only afford to fund a charter at a reduced level. Where funding is not high enough for an applicant to move forward, the charter applicant should then be able to appeal to the State. As State School Superintendent, I would certainly be open to opportunities for increased funding and would work with the Governor’s office, Legislature, and Board of Education on this issue.
 
MORGAN:  We need to revamp our funding structure. All students should be funded based on their individual needs.
 
WILLIS:  Upon achieving equal or better results than the local schools.
 
WOODS:  The above figures appear to include both state and local funding. State government should not remove local control and governance away from the vote of its citizens. Local expenditures of local taxes needs to remain local.
 
Question 9 Comments:
BELL:  We need to update the formula, as this is part of a broader education issue.
 
FORT:  I like the way you go from local funding on #11 to state funding here, so I will try to be honest. I agree, but only if EVERY student/FTE in the state is also funded at this rate.
 
JESTER:  State chartered schools are public schools. They should be funded at a level that is equal to per pupil funding in their district or region.
 
JOHNSON:  I do believe the funding formula should continually be reviewed and possibly increased, I am hesitant to advocate for a wholesale, definitive change at this time. With the Commission being a new entity, I think we need to give the system some time to operate and we can evaluate over the coming years. As State School Superintendent, I would certainly be open to opportunities for increased funding and would work with the Governor’s office, Legislature, and Board of Education on this issue.
 
MORGAN:  I believe in equity. All students should have access to the same funding amounts based on their needs.
 
WILLIS:  The funding should be determined based on the location of the school and the local funds going toward the traditional school.
 
WOODS:  The above figures appear to include both state and local funding. State government should not remove local control and governance away from the vote of its citizens. Local expenditures of local taxes needs to remain local.
 
Question 10 Comments:
DAWES:  A state sponsored virtual charter would be similar to a home-schooled student, but by being enrolled in a state school, the student will benefit from expanded educational opportunities.
 
FORT:  Now you are at national average. It is hard to fully understand national average and the relevance it brings to this question. Who I paying for this and I can answer it better?
 
JESTER:  We should increase virtual school funding but we may need to look at a different per pupil average. We should take into account the differences in the cost of living between various states. It might be a better fit to use a regional average or use an adjustment factor.
 
JOHNSON:  Georgia is not the rest of the country–I do not believe that the national average is necessarily the appropriate way to determine the funding level. We should evaluate the relevant factors in Georgia and develop a funding formula based on virtual schools needs locally. I support expanding virtual learning opportunities for our State and am willing to work with other policy-makers on how we best achieve that goal.
 
MORGAN:  As an average however funding should be based on student need.
 
WOODS:  Average costs vary greatly from state to state. The cost of living from state to state and even county to county within Georgia is significant. Using these numbers in such a manner is fiscally unsound.
 
Question 11 Comments:
 
BELL:  YES
 
DAWES:  YES – It will be a part of the agency Appropriations request for legislative approval
 
JESTER:  YES – We need broad reform in the way we fund all students in our state. I have already made a commitment to advocate for upgrading our funding formula. We need a far simpler formula and it should be attached to the child so that we can eliminate the inequities that we see with the charter sector and beyond.
 
MORGAN:  YES
 
Question 12 Comments:
BACALLO:  I support locally governed charter schools. State governed charter schools are not governed by local parents and community members so they should not be supported with local funds.
 
FORT:  If the appeal goes to the State Board of Education and the petitioners can show a clear reason and purpose of how they are supporting students in that cluster while supporting the ultimate mission and purpose of the local system.
 
JESTER:  Absolutely. DeKalb’s denial of the cluster petition was illustrative of what ails that system and others. Too many districts will not give careful consideration of charter cluster plans because they threaten the status quo. The state should incentivize decentralization of large districts, especially when they have failing metrics. We know from examples and data around the nation that decentralization produces better results for kids and taxpayers. It is time for this in Georgia.
 
JOHNSON:  I support a fair process for charter petitioners, but do not wish to create lawsuits or useless bureaucracy. Therefore, any appeals process should be left to those that understand charter schools and education, and should provide a transparent process for relief.
 
MORGAN:  I am open to discussing this policy. I fully support a local school and community wanting to create a charter. I also believe the local district should have greater influence in decisions that have such a direct impact on the district itself. I don’t think the same argument is true for startups or commission schools. I strongly believe in empowering parents and community. I also believe under certain circumstances districts should have the right to make decisions for their own schools.
 
WOODS:  Such action would require amending our state’s constitution.
 
Question 13 Comments:
BACALLO:  I support all with the exception of state run charter schools. There is a potential that those schools will become accountable only to the federal government. That is a problem. The way our state legislation is written concerns me because the federal involvement in state run charter schools is explicit. Everyone should be concerned about the potential negative federal influence.
 
FORT:  You left out the State Board of Education to be a part of this process. I will support this if the basic same rules apply to everyone in order to maintain one typical school system not have so many schools moving in various directions.
 
JESTER:  Yes, provided it is a streamlined process. That process should be simple and quick.
 
JOHNSON:  Any policies that can be adopted to encourage the renewal, replication, and expansion of high quality charters would be welcome. Where we have charters that are highly successful, we should help them continue to succeed. Bureaucracy is the enemy of effectiveness.
 
Question 14 Comments:
FORT:  It established a Board without any further information of the actual creation of the charter school process.
 
JESTER:  Yes! I also was an active advocate for the passage of Amendment 1. The AJC published an editorial I had written in favor of the amendment.
 
JOHNSON:  I voted yes because I believe that charter schools are an effective way to give parents options and to encourage community engagement in local schools.
 
MORGAN:  I am a co-sponsor of the amendment and fought hard to get it passed in the legislature and worked hard to pass it on the ballot.
 
WOODS:  I voted no based on my constitutional beliefs. I felt that the amendment, duplicated an existing appeals process, created another unelected board of governance, and removed local control. This view aligned itself with that provided by the State Supreme Court of Georgia. My decision did not have any bearing on my thoughts about the charter concept of which I approve.
 
Question 15 Comments:
FORT:  I would lean more toward yes if there is a clear path on the entire purpose and life of a charter school, not just starting one up and see what happens.
 
JESTER:  I voted YES on the amendment and would vote YES again today!
 
JOHNSON:  I would still vote yes today.
 
WOODS:  If the language of the amendment did not change, I would (vote no again). I do believe there is a place for charter schools and their concept. I believe that the intrusion of the federal government has hurt the ability of our traditional schools to provide charter type experience. The freedom and autonomy experienced by charter schools should be expanded to that of our traditional schools. They are in essence what our schools should look like as they have the freedom to address individual learning needs and interest.
 

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