Redistricting, charter schools discussed at Richmond County District 5 breakfast

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Charter schools and redistricting were the big issues addressed Saturday at the District 5 Quarterly Breakfast at the Henry Brigham Com­munity Center.

Lynn Bailey, the executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, led the program by updating the roughly 100 residents in attendance on redistricting and election dates.

“I have been doing this job as director of elections for 20 years this year, and prior to that I worked in the elections office for probably 12 or so years. So I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I will say, without a doubt, this is the most interesting year I have ever worked in my life,” she said.

When Augusta legislators could not agree on a new voting map after the 2010 census, a group of residents filed a lawsuit declaring the current lines unconstitutional.

Bailey said she expects the city to file an answer to the suit within a few weeks. The redistricting process will likely push back commission and school board elections until November, she said.

Registered voters will receive cards in the mail notifying them which district they reside in, where they vote and other important information. Expect one card in June for the July elections and another toward the end of summer, after the local lines are in place. Polling locations will not change this year, Bailey said.

Jim Whitson, the acting superintendent of Richmond County schools, and Monique Braswell, the president of the Richmond County Council of PTAs, asked voters to oppose the charter school referendum.

Whitson, who stressed that he was speaking only for himself and not the school board, said that House Bill 1162 will allow for the formation of a commission in Atlanta that can approve charter schools in any community in Georgia.

That would take power and money away from local school systems, he said. Whitson said it could create a “caste system” that will benefit those who “have” and will hurt those who “have not.”

“I am not opposed to charter schools. I am opposed that the local board of education can be removed from that process,” he said.

Braswell cautioned voters to be careful of the referendum’s wording, which she described as tricky. It sounds like it gives parents more choices, but instead it would remove power over these schools from the community, she said.

The referendum reads, “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of the local community.”

“ ‘Upon the request of the local community.’ They are not you and I. These people come from all over the country. Be careful of the wording,” Braswell said. “My vote is no.”

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Dr. Craig Spinks.Georgians for Educational Excellence
Dr. Whitson, The RCBOE funds

Dr. Whitson,

The RCBOE funds a caste system-based public school operation now. To the "blue bloods" and their wannabes, you offer Davidson, Johnson, Walker and the IB program at ARC. To the po and powerless folks, you offer your system's other schools, most of which are appallingly underperforming. If that's not a caste system, what is it?

FriedFacts 04/29/12 - 07:33 am
What an example of

What an example of bureaucratic protectionism. Look at this quote: "That would take power and money away from local school systems." Of course that's what this is all about. Keeping the money and power in the hands of the few BOE members and administrators.

Braswell then finds fault with the wording of the bill when it says: "Upon the request of the local community." He throws out all kinds of fear provoking garbage.

This is actually a great advertizement for charter schools. Remember no county is forced to start them. With this bill there is simply a choice if the people want to go that route.

nothin2show4it 04/29/12 - 09:55 am
Face it. The Federal Fascist

Face it. The Federal Fascist School Systems have been taking parental power away for years. Now when there is a chance to regain some control over our children's education they are crying about it.

Under their control education has gone down. Now we have the opportunity to regain it.

I overheard a teacher just the other day say that they were too tired to teach one day last week so they showed a movie. Quote; "After all we are close to the end of the year and have almost fulfilled all of the requirements."

I was happy that none of my children studied under this teacher.

csraguy 04/29/12 - 01:13 pm
If it isn't broken, don't fix

If it isn't broken, don't fix it. The RCBOE spends over $100,000.00 per pupil by the time a student is nearing graduation and yet they barely graduate 50% of their do the math.

Insider Information
Insider Information 04/29/12 - 08:57 pm
Dr. Whitson says he does not

Dr. Whitson says he does not oppose charter schools.


The Richmond County school board has NEVER ever - not even once - approved a private charter school application.

That's a big fat zero, zilch, nada, none.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 04/30/12 - 08:55 am
So Jim Whitson is upset that

So Jim Whitson is upset that creation of a charter school can take away state funds from the local system. Well, of course it can, and it should. The reason for the state funds is to support the education costs of the students. If you create a charter school, some students leave the zoned system. They have fewer students to educate, thus they do not need the extra funds. The funding should follow the students.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 04/30/12 - 08:57 am
Regarding the city's failure

Regarding the city's failure to draw district lines as required by law; Augusta's politicians have seen themselves as above the law for as long as I have lived here.

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