Proponents and opponents spar over Amendment One

Amendment One is up for vote on the November ballot. / Jessica Fairley

A community forum was held Tuesday to educate the public about a controversial amendment up for vote on the November 6th ballot.

The state of Georgia has more than 300 charter schools and before another is approved, there are two boards officials have to answer to.

"One is through the local school board and the other is through the State Department of Education, which reviews the applications if the local school board denies the applications," says Tracy Nelson, Director of Government Affairs for the Georgia Association of Educators.

The debate surrounding Amendment One is whether or not the state constitution should be altered to allow a separate committee to judge and approve charter schools. Educators with the Pataula Charter Academy say yes.

"We did apply with all of our local boards. We were denied by all five local boards the first time and then when the commission was struck down we went before the state" says Kylie Holley, Principal of Pataula Charter Academy.

Those against Amendment One say a newly formed committee would be able to make decisions without accountability to tax payers or voters.

"This is a way to go around the school board and department of education. We will see a swarm of private entities that will have access to public funding," says Tracy Nelson.

Nelson says the public school system will suffer even more if the amendment passes but proponents for the bill say it's not about money.

"House bill 797 says specifically that we cannot take money from local public schools so the amendment is not going to hurt local public schools," says Kylie Holley.

While both sides say they are for charter schools, they disagree on how the schools should be approved and who should govern them.

As we near the November election, they agree it's the voters who will decide the fate of Amendment One.
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