Amendment 1, otherwise known as Opportunity School District, failed across Georgia on Tuesday after being rejected by around 60 percent of statewide voters.
More than 55 percent of Richmond County voters opposed the bill (40,661 to 32,756).
“Look, Nathan Deal’s a great man and I agree with a lot of things he’s accomplished,” said Richmond County school board member Jimmy Atkins, who represents District 8. “But right now he’s a lame-duck governor. By the time Opportunity School District truly gets going, he won’t be in office to take the fall.”
Nineteen schools in Richmond County had the potential to be affected by the Opportunity School District – a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would authorize the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing public schools and their students.
Three high schools – Butler, Glenn Hills and T.W. Josey – are on the list. The four middle schools on the list are Glenn Hills, Murphey, Sego and Spirit Creek.
The 12 elementary schools are Bayvale, Diamond Lakes, Glenn Hills, Hains, Hornsby, Jamestown, Jenkins-White Charter, Lamar-Milledge, Meadowbrook, Terrace Manor, Wheeless Road and Wilkinson Gardens.
“I’ve said all along that we need to preserve local control,” said Richmond County board member Marion Barnes. “This bill didn’t work in New Orleans and there was no reason to believe it would work here.”
Across the state, 127 schools were targeted for state takeover if the amendment had passed. The state-operated school district could take over up to 20 schools a year and 100 schools in all. Schools in the OSD would receive a per-student share of all local, state and federal funds coming into the school districts in which the schools are located.
According to Gov. Nathan Deal, 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 bill stated that schools would stay in the district for no less than five years but no more than 10 years, and would then return to local control.
“My biggest issue with Gov. Deal’s plan is this: If he knows all these wonderful ways to reform our schools – why isn’t he telling us?” asked board member Barbara Pulliam. “Why won’t he share his secret?”