FORSYTH COUNTY -- The Forsyth County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution to oppose Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District proposal at a public meeting Thursday.
District 1 board member Ann Crow wrote and read the resolution, which detailed the board’s concerns about what she said are uncertainties in the proposal and the precedent it would set, should it be passed.
“I want people to understand that there are many different school districts across Georgia, and everybody will associate how this will affect them — or potentially affect them — [differently,]” she said. “There’s always the issue of local control, but for us, it was a little bit different because our school system will probably never be affected by a potential takeover by the state. But there are several other issues that we felt should be considered,” she added.
The resolution says the BOE “cannot support the creation of an ‘Opportunity School District’ as it is proposed in Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot because there are procedures in place that can achieve the same results without so much unknown and without creating additional layers of government.”
The proposal will be listed on general election ballot, where Georgia voters will be given the choice to approve, deny or abstain from answering the question. If approved, it would amend the state constitution.
School boards across Georgia have expressed their opposition to the initiative, which would create a statewide school district and give Deal’s office the authority to take over failing schools.
This authority would be extensive; the state would have complete control over the schools in the opportunity district, meaning it could remove principals and teachers it deemed ineffective.
Deal’s office would also have the power to change what students are taught and what learning materials teachers use, as well as to regulate and handle the schools’ budgets.
They also expressed concern that the Opportunity School District would limit the collaboration Forsyth County — which is among the top-performing district in the state — could have with other counties to help alleviate the problem of failing schools.
“We’ve served in some leadership capacities in the state and we’re more than willing to step up to the plate and talk about these issues of failing schools,” said Tom Cleveland, District 3 board member. “We’re willing to be leaders because we want everybody to succeed in Georgia, and we want to lead the way. That’s the crux of what we’re doing here.”
The board urged voters to educate themselves on the issue and vote “no” on November 8.
Anita Tucker, the Democratic candidate running for the District 5 seat on the board, agreed with existing members.
“It’s easy,” she said. “There are four amendments on the ballot. Check no, no, no, no; there you have it.”
Tucker is running against Republican incumbent Nancy Roche, who also opposes the plan. Forsyth County residents will have the opportunity to vote for their candidate of choice on the same ballot on Nov. 8.