In a board meeting held Wednesday, the chamber voted to approve a resolution denouncing the proposed amendment, which would allow for the creation of a state board for the approval of charter schools if an application is denied at the local level.
“This is a highly sensitive subject. It went through the Government Affairs Committee on Monday and it was requested to go before the full board,” said chamber President and CEO Joe Frank Harris Jr. “It wasn’t a unanimous vote, but the board voted pretty heavily against amendment one. ... They recognized that this money doesn’t need to be redirected from public schools.
“Due to the fact that we have a system in place to handle charter school applications at a local level, we came out against the amendment.”
The resolution cites local control and the loss of funding as its main concerns in the opposition to the proposed amendment.
“Whereas, the Chamber recognizes a system is in place which includes local elected officials and a Governor appointed State Board of Education to approve Charter Schools; and Whereas, the Chamber opposes the State’s establishment of a separate system of state-authorized public Charter Schools that are funded through a funding formula that unilaterally takes critically needed funds from local public schools and re-directs them to the state-controlled Charter Schools; and Be It Resolved that the Chamber opposes Constitutional Amendment #1 relative to State approval of Charter Schools, which will be on the November 6, 2012 General Election ballot,” states the chamber resolution approved Wednesday.
The board heard arguments from both sides Wednesday before taking a vote on the matter, with discussion and deliberation lasting about two hours.
Its decision echoes that of local school boards and Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown.
Harris urges voters to educate themselves on all the issues up for vote this election.
“Everyone needs to get educated on this issue,” Harris said. “And most importantly, everyone needs to get out and vote.”