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      School Superintendent Barge releases statement on charter school amendment

      Dr. John Barge at a school tour in Dougherty County earlier in the year.

      Georgia State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge released a statement Tuesday concerning the the constitutional amendment on charter schools on the November general election ballot.

      I fully support the continued creation of high quality charter schools for Georgia TMs students, but after careful consideration of what is best for all of Georgia TMs students, I have decided to take a position in opposition to the constitutional amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

      Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia TMs local school districts " much less an additional $430 million in state funds, which is what it would cost to add seven new state charter schools per year over the next five years (the annual average of the Charter Commission that would be revived if the amendment passes).

      I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education. What TMs more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).

      I trust our local school districts will continue to approve only high quality charter schools for Georgia TMs students, and I am committed to working with all of our school districts to ensure that high quality applicants are not denied locally " including mediating between high quality charter school applicants and any local districts that are reluctant to approve them, as provided by existing Georgia law.