Both Oconee County School Superintendent Jason Branch and Board of Education Chairman Tom Odom have spoken out publicly against Amendment 1 to Georgia Constitution that is on the November ballot.
The so-called Opportunity School District amendment asks voters to decide if they want “to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?"
Odom, in a pair of article in The Oconee Enterprise, also objected to the amendment because it takes control away from local leaders, but he outlined in addition a series of objections to administration of the Opportunity School District and the criteria used for designating schools as failing.
The Opportunity School District amendment is one of four on the ballot.
As of the end of the day today (Monday), 582 voters had cast their ballots in the first day of early voting, representing 2.1 percent of the 27,845 eligible voters in the county.
Dr. Branch said at the Sept. 15 election forum at Veterans Park that Amendment 1 represents “a lack of local control.”
“I’m a firm believer, and I believe our Board is as well, that we need to try to make as many decisions locally as possible,” he said. The video of his response to a question on the Amendment is below.
The amendment would allow the governor to create a statewide school district to administer schools determined to be failing.
The governor would appoint a superintendent over the Opportunity School District.
BOE Chair Odom is opposed to the the state’s ability to take local tax money and even use local facilities to operate the seized schools.
He also objects to the way the state would determine which schools are failing, based on Georgia’s College and Career Ready Performance Index.
He also is critical of the way the Amendment is presented to voters.
The heading for the Amendment says it “Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.”
In fact, it takes control of the schools away from the local community.
Odom expressed his concerns in articles appearing on Page A5 of the Sept. 29 and Page A5 of the Oct. 6 editions of the Enterprise
Other Ballot Items
Amendment 2 on the ballot would create a fund to provide services for child victims. Monies would come from fines for sexual exploitation crimes and from fees on adult entertainment businesses.
Amendment 3 would replace the independent judicial qualification commission with one appointed by the governor and top legislative leaders.
Amendment 4 would dedicate revenues from existing taxes on fireworks to trauma care, fire services and public safety.
These ballot items accompany the renewal question for the Oconee County Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the two Oconee County referenda on Sunday sales of alcohol.
The special Board of Commissioners election to fill the unexpired Post 2 term appears on the ballot surrounded by these amendments and ballot questions.
The second part of the sample ballot, containing the amendments and referenda, is below.
I also have created a new channel on the Oconee County Observations Vimeo site for the videos I and colleagues Sarah Bell and Ann Hollifield have recorded of interviews and forums related to the November election.
It is available HERE.
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