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Letter to the editor
School flexibility offered by state
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Forsyth County News
I enjoy reading your weekly “Opinion” as it is normally current, insightful and complete.

However, I feel your 1/4/09 opinion, “School systems need options” did not include an important piece of information that could leave the reader with an incomplete understanding of the flexibility and accountability that the General Assembly and governor’s office have offered our school systems.

Specifically, on April 4, 2008, HB 1209 passed the General Assembly and was signed by the governor five days later on April 9. This bill, known as “Investing in Educational Excellence” or “IE2” went into effect on July 1, 2008.

IE2 provides exactly the type of flexibility and accountability that our school systems want.

In fact, before coming to Forsyth County, Supt. Buster Evans was part of the governor’s original task force that helped study this concept. I not only supported its passing but spoke in favor of its passing from the well during its debate.

IE2 allows school systems to create clear, concise, renewable performance contracts negotiated between the local school system and the state.

These contracts articulate three conditions: 1) the accountability the school district is willing to accept; 2) the flexibility the district will receive with regard to particular state laws and regulations; and 3) the consequences the district will face if it does not meet its performance goals.

The following specific flexibility is offered: Waivers or variances from class size requirements, waivers or variances from expenditure controls and categorical allotment requirements, waivers or variances from certification requirements or salary requirements, and any other requirements or provisions of Chapter 2 of Title 20 except as provided in subsection (e) of Code Section 20-2-82.

All of this was discussed with Supt. Evans and the Forsyth County School Board at the meeting you mentioned in your article but failed to be discussed in your article.

I am committed to offering as much flexibility with proper accountability to our school systems as possible and this piece of legislation is a current example of that and I am confident that the rest of the delegation and many others at the state are equally committed.

I hope our school system and many others take advantage of this great opportunity in the near future. Thanks for the opportunity to present this information.

Mark Hamilton

State Representative (R)
Georgia House District 23