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Poll shows half favor charter school amendment

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ATLANTA — Half the Georgia voters surveyed support changing the state constitution to allow the state to grant charters to schools begun by parents over the objections of local school boards.

About one-quarter of voters are undecided, and roughly the same number are opposed to the question, which will appear on general election ballots this fall.

Those are the results of a poll released late Monday by Sand Mountain Communications, a Georgia-based political firm. It reached 1,331 registered voters Aug. 4 and asked them to take an automated questionnaire. The margin of error is 3 percent.

The results are the first made public of voter sentiment since the legislature put the amendment on the ballot. Both sides are raising funds for a campaign, although neither has begun advertising.

“With eight weeks before the General Election, I’d rather be in the place of charter-school proponents than that of the opposition,” said Sand Mountain pollster and political consultant Todd Rehm. “For opponents of the charter-school amendment to win, they have to either convince every undecided voter or win a substantial majority of those voters and convert some current supporters.”

Among every age group political party and gender, supporters outnumber opponents.

Gov. Nathan Deal has come out in favor of the amendment, saying it provides parents a choice besides sending their children to a struggling school.

State school Superintendent John Barge broke with his fellow Republicans and opposed it, warning that it would draw needed funding from traditional schools at a time when they face reduced budgets.

The question is on the ballot because the Georgia Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a law that had created an appointed commission at the state level to grant operating charters to parents rejected by their local school boards.


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