LEESBURG, Ga. -- Sylvia Vann, chairperson of the Lee County Board of Education, told Lee County Commissioners Tuesday evening that the decision making ability regarding charter schools should remain in the hands of local school boards.
Vann has been vocal in her opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot which creates a Charter School Commission and gives it the ability to create charter schools.
Vann told commissioners during their work session Tuesday night that she is concerned the amendment would further hurt local school systems financially.
Election officials contend, Vann said, that the new state-sponsored schools would not take anything away from public schools, She is not convinced
"We must pay attention to the fact that 10 years ago state funds represented 50 percent of public school funding and today's figure is less than 38 percent," Vann said.
As a result, Vann says there have been teacher furloughs and layoffs, shortened school years, fewer extra-curricular programs and larger class sizes.
Vann says Lee County's school system has lost $23 million during the past 11 years because of austerity cuts. Per pupil funding, she says has dropped from $5,500 in 2008 to $4,800 this year.
"If the influx of these state-sponsored charter schools with no accountability to locally-elected school boards will not take funding from existing schools, then where will the money come from?" Vann asked.
"The money will come from an already over tapped state treasury."
Vann did not ask the commissioners to take any action as a group, but told them that every major state education organization in Georgia as well as State School Supt. John Barge opposes the amendment.