Education and financial dispute in Calhoun Co.

Calhoun County Schools officials fear financial issues. / Jessica Fairley

An amendment circling around the Georgia House of Representatives has education officials in Calhoun County concerned.

House Resolution 1162 was struck down by the house on Wednesday but it is up for reconsideration in the upcoming days.

If the resolution is voted for and approved, it may be left up to Georgia residents to decide whether or not charter schools should be run by the state.

Calhoun County School System officials say if tax payers decide in favor of commissioned charter schools it may leave the public school system strapped for cash.

"If it passed it would become a constitutional amendment that would allow the commissioned charter schools to access local tax dollars," said Calhoun County School System Superintendent Danny Ellis.

Commissioned charter schools are facilities that are not run by local school systems. Instead they are monitored by the state.

The state of Georgia currently has 12 commissioned charter schools.

Danny Ellis says if the schools are allowed to dip into local tax funds it would be a devastating blow that would cause thousands of dollars to be lost each year. Since the school system is in the midst of a financial bind, this would make it worse.

"To make up for the $366,000 dollars we would have to raise the mileage rate an additional three mils. Obviously if the highest number of mils you can have are 20, there aren't three mils to be raised and even if there were, that would be an extra burden on the taxpayers," said Danny Ellis.

He says the system would face a loss of school personnel and instructional programs.

While the system hopes the amendment is struck down by the house once again, charter school officials say money isn't the issue.

"It has nothing to do with tax money at all. They want to put it to vote by Georgia citizens whether or not the state has the right to approve charter schools," said Pataula Charter Academy Principal Kylie Holley.

For the past 12 years the state has run commissioned charter schools. That was until this action was deemed unconstitutional.

While Holley says commissioned charter schools are not reaching for cash benefits, she does agree that funding will change.

"The after effects of it will be that these state charter special schools are funded more equitable than they are now," said Kylie Holley.

She says although they can't guarantee this, officials are trying to figure out a way to fund the schools so that public education funds are not affected.

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