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Board not in favor of CSC plan

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education has officially challenged the Georgia Charter School Commission decision to create state commission charter schools.

The created schools would not be subject to the management and control of a local board of education, but they would be funded in part by a proportional share of local revenue.

During a special called meeting Friday, the school board members signed a resolution in conjunction with other Georgia Boards of Education to be filed before the Georgia Supreme Court by the Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association in opposition to the law allowing state-mandated charter schools.

"I have nothing against charter schools," said school board Chair Cathy Dobbs. "I think they have a place in this state and in the educational system of this country, and some of them are done very well. If it's coming to our county to use our local funds, I think they need to come before us."

She said the opposition to this ruling does not mean that the school board is against all charter schools -- three years ago, the school board approved the Challenge Charter Academy, which is managed by the Newton County School System.

"I just feel strongly about being circumvented in that process by the state Legislature," Dobbs said, adding that she feels the ruling would be against the state constitution. "I have no problem joining the rest of the school systems in the state that also see the problem with this."

She said opposing this would make her feel like she's being more of a good steward of local tax funds.

"I really have a problem with someone else spending our local funds," she said. "We have to be very careful when we're looking at charter schools. ... We don't have money to waste. ... They don't need to spend our local dollars -- we can do that ourselves."

Fellow board member Johnny Smith agreed.

"I think they should come to us and have the opportunity to work with us since they're taking our funding," he said. "It's a dangerous thing."

So far, more than 20 school districts have joined to support the cause or sign the amicus brief, including Atlanta, Bulloch, Candler, Clayton, DeKalb and Gwinnett.

"Any school district in the state, including Newton, could be a target under this law," said Herb Garrett, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association. "They could have one of these commission charter schools established in their school system and have no say in it at all, yet still have to give them a share of their local tax money."

Joining in the brief does not cost the school system anything, said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews.

According to Garrett, the brief will be submitted to the Supreme Court of Georgia, and oral arguments are scheduled for October.