Members selected for Georgia charter school panel

The Georgia Department of Education last week approved the new State Charter Schools Com­mission, a seven-member body that has the power to authorize charter schools even over the objection of local school boards.

The committee’s creation was authorized last year in a constitutional amendment referendum. Proponents said the panel would provide more educational choices for parents, and opponents said it would drain money from existing public schools and take power away from school districts.

The committee does not have any direct representation from the Augusta area. It includes professionals who have worked in public education, financial services and economics.

Gov. Nathan Deal provided nominations for three positions, and Lt. Gov. Casey Ca­gle and House Speaker Da­vid Ralston provided two each. Four members will serve two-year terms, and three will serve one-year terms.

“I am pleased to see that the members of the Charter Schools Commission represent a broad cross section of backgrounds and expertise in business, education, non-profits and government,” Deal said in a statement. “I know they will take their duty of reviewing charter school
petitions and approving high quality charter schools seriously, and I look forward to working with them to improve
student learning and achieve­ment across Geor­gia.”

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Gov. Nathan Deal’s nominations:

• Dr. Charles Knapp: economist and educator; president emeritus of University of Georgia, 1997-99

• Jennifer Rippner: lawyer with a career in education policy, currently a consultant with National Association of Charter School Authorizers

• Tony Lowden: Executive director of Stone Academy, an after-school enrichment program that serves at-risk children in the Macon-Bibb County area

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s nominations:

• Tom Lewis: Senior vice president for external affairs at Georgia State University

• Paul W. Williams: Chief financial officer of
Brick­stream Corp.,
with 30 years of
financial experience
in Georgia

House Speaker David Ralston’s nominations:

• Jose R. Perez: served on the state Board of Education as the 7th Congressional District representative from 2004 to 2011

• James E. Hogg: 30 years in public education, including serving as interim director for charter schools at the Georgia Department of Education.