Questions remain after Opportunity School District forum in Macon

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Members of the Macon League of Women Voters were left with unanswered questions following a forum between members on both sides of the Opportunity School District.

“I didn’t hear the details about what’s going to happen,” Adah Roberts said. ” [What’s] the reason that we should vote for this issue that the school district hasn’t done?”
Roberts is the President of the Macon League of Women Voters. Her group hosted the forum. She said she didn’t hear any reasons to oppose the new school district either.
Sen. John Kennedy, representing District 18, was on hand to pitch the Opportunity School District for Gov. Nathan Deal. Daryl Morton, representing the Bibb County School District, was there in opposition to the amendment.

If voted on in November, the Opportunity School District would give state control to at least 20 “chronically failing” schools in Georgia.

Currently, there are 139 schools in Georgia labeled as “chronically failing” and subject to Opportunity School District takeover. That means the schools failed the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) for three consecutive year.

Kennedy was asked specifically what would happen to Bibb County Schools if they were taken over. He said there were of a few possibilities.

“First of which is a cooperative model between the new superintendent and the local school system that’s there,” Kennedy said. “I would submit to you that’s the most likely model that’s followed.”

If the amendment is passed, Gov. Deal will appoint a superintendent to the new school district, approved by the state senate, that’ll have the power to fire teachers and principals.

Morton wants control to remain local, with the state providing resources allowing failing schools to find innovative solutions.

“We should empower the people who are most invested in outcomes, those are going to be people that live in those communities,” Morton said. “These are education dollars, and part of the reason for the amendment is to take these education dollars and spend them.”

Kennedy’s question to the crowd of about 30 people was simple:

“How long are we going to leave these children in a failing schools and not do something about it?”

Morton pitched that state control has been implemented in Louisiana, Michigan and Tennessee with poor results. The majority opinion from members in the crowd was the new school district doesn’t have a proven track record.

“The results that we’ve been getting is because school systems have been following policies put up by the state of Georgia,” Morton said. “And so now we have the state complaining about the results that they dictated.”

There are currently nine schools in Georgia that would be considered under-performing for three consecutive years. They include: Brookdale Elementary, Bruce Elementary, Burghard Elementary, Hartley Elementary, Ingram-Pye Elementary, King-Danforth Elementary, Rice Elementary, Riley Elemtary, Williams Elementary, Appling Middle School, Ballard-Hudson Middle School, Bloomfield Middle School, and Southwest High School.

The vote on the amendment is November 8.

Categories: Bibb County, Elections, Local News

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