Georgia voters may get a chance to decide whether certain cities can draw up their own school districts.
A resolution by Representative Tom Taylor of Dunwoody calls for a constitutional amendment giving cities formed since 2005 the authority to create their own school districts. Seven cities have come into being in Georgia since 2005.
Taylor says newer, smaller school systems would enhance local control and give students a better chance at a good education, especially students in big, problem-plagued systems. Under the measure, for example, the city of Brookhaven, which was incorporated in 2012, could break away from the Dekalb County School System.
This month, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools gave Dekalb County School System a clean bill of health after placing in on probation in 2012.
“These systems are so large, you know, that you have a huge administrative overhead. And I think you take that back out of the central office and deliver to the end user, which is the child and the tax payer,” said Taylor.
He says new, local school districts would provide economic benefits, especially for people looking to move to new communities who would be drawn to a smaller system.
Taylor says clouds over school systems, like the Atlanta Public Schools scandal or the probation of the DeKalb County System can be a “kiss of death” for neighborhoods.
Tracey Nelson with the Georgia Association of Educators says lawmakers should have more of a statewide rather than “narrow single community” perspective when voting on issues such as school districts.
She says the General Assembly needs to focus on improving funding for all of Georgia’s 169 school systems.
“We have systems now who don't have 180 days of school. Some systems have as low as 144 days of school,” Nelson said. “This legislation needs to focus on ensuring every kid gets 180 academic days,” said Nelson.
Representative Taylor is proposing a change to the state constitution, and he will need to win a two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate in order for the resolution to pass.
Contributors: Shauna Stuart