BOE opposes Deal’s plan on failing schools

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The Henry County Board of Education made official its opposition to Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District (OSD) with a unanimous vote at the Aug. 8 regular BOE meeting.

Deal’s plan, based on similar initiatives in Louisiana and Tennessee that his office deemed successful, “would authorize the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing public schools and rescue children languishing in them,” according to a statement on the governor’s website.

The school board charges that such an action would undermine the local district’s mission to educate local students.

“The Henry County Board of Education believes that reducing local control of local schools by redirecting resources and shifting governance to other entities would constrain the capacity of Henry County Schools to fulfill its mission of ensuring success for each student,” according to the resolution. “The board further believes that the state can best ensure success for each student by providing struggling schools with resources that enable local school districts to attract the best faculty and staff, improve student access to health and social services, and enhance supports for student academic achievement.”

Under the governor’s proposal, “persistently failing schools” are defined as those scoring below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education’s accountability measure, the College and Career Performance Index, for three consecutive years. The Opportunity School District would would take in no more than 20 schools per year, meaning it would govern no more than 100 at any given time. Schools would stay in the district for no less than 5 years but no more than 10 years, and would then return to local control.

The legislation that would create the OSD requires a constitutional amendment, meaning there must be a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the General Assembly. That was achieved during the 2015 legislative session, and it now requires a majority approval by Georgia voters in the November general election.