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The two most important things that happened in the 2015 legislative session regarding the evolution of public education
in Georgia was the creation of the Education Reform Commission, whose charge is to reformulate the school funding
formula, and the Opportunity School District (OSD) legislation that creates a constitutional amendment (to be voted on
in November of 2016) that if passed by the voters would allow the Governor to take over schools he designates as failing.
GEORGIA OPPORTUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Governor’s Constitutional Amendment to allow the Governor’s office to take over schools they identify as failing squeaked through the
House by 2 votes and the Senate by 1. GAE was a standout voice against this legislation. This legislation removes local control of schools deemed
‘failing’ from the local school board, the local superintendent and the community. The campaign to get voters to approve this measure will be well
funded and has already begun. Below are the details of the legislation:
Status: Governor Deal’s proposal to create an Opportunity School District (OSD) for Georgia passed the state legislature 3/25/2015.
The resolution authorizing a constitutional amendment referendum will go before Georgia’s voters on the November 2016 election ballot.
• The following question would be
on the ballot:
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the
state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order
to improve student performance?”
• If approved by the voters, the OSD would be created effective
for the 2017-18 school year.
• The Governor would select a superintendent for the OSD.
• The superintendent would be part of the Governor’s Office of
Student Achievement (GOSA).
• The OSD superintendent would report only to the Governor.
• The OSD would take over up to 20 schools per year with a
maximum size of 100 schools.
• The constitutional amendment would give the OSD the
authority “to receive, control, and expend state, federal, and
local funds appropriated.”
• Each school would receive funding equal to the state and
federal funding as well as “an amount determined by OSD for
each student enrolled in such school equal to a proportional
share of local revenue from the local school system in which
the school is located.”
• The OSD may withhold up to 3% of the school’s funding to
cover administrative costs.
• GOSA would annually assign letter-grade ratings for all public
schools in Georgia on an A through F grading scale.
• Schools with an “F” rating for three consecutive years would
be eligible to become Opportunity Schools.
• To select from among the pool of eligible schools, other
criteria will be considered such as geographic clusters of
qualifying schools, feeder patterns with multiple eligible
schools, availability of qualified partners, and community
engagement and support.
• Final selection authority rests with the OSD superintendent.
• The OSD would have four choices for taking over a school.
– Direct management by the OSD.
– Shared governance with the local board via a contract in
which the OSD has the authority to direct changes to be
made at the school.
– Reconstitution of the school as a state charter school in
collaboration with the Charter School Commission.
– Closure of the school and reassignment of the students to
a non-qualifying school in the local system.
• The OSD’s choice would include community input.
• Local boards of education must cooperate fully to make
available requested services at a reasonable cost (e.g.
transportation, cafeteria, custodial, utilities, alternative
education, special education, student information services.)