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Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 1:05pm

Another Day, A New Charter School Bill

A state Senator has introduced a resolution allowing Georgians to vote on whether the state can authorize charter schools. It’s nearly identical to a House version that narrowly failed on its first vote last week.

Like the House bill, the Senate version would allow voters to change Georgia’s constitution, giving the state the power to open public charter schools.

The measure would override a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that banned the state’s charter school commission.

Opponents say the bill would strip local school boards of control.

Sen. Fran Millar, an Atlanta Republican, is the resolution’s sponsor. He dismisses that concern.

“We’re not here to perpetuate the power of school boards. We’re here to educate children," he said in an interview. "I guess the ultimate local control would be the parents. These are public schools, afterall.”

But foes such as Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat, say it’s a back-handed way of having the state approve public schools that operate more like private schools.

"If you take away a local school system’s to allocate its own money in the way it sees fit, you’re not talking about public schools anymore,” he said on the floor of the Senate Wednesday.

It remains an open question how the state will fund the charter schools if the bill passes. Sen. Millar said lawmakers are still trying to work that out.

The constitutional amendment could come up for a second vote in the House as early as this week.